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Meet presidential finalist Dr. Patrick Lanning

When Dr. Patrick Lanning drives over the mountains to Central Oregon it “feels like coming home.” Lanning, one of Central Oregon Community College’s three presidential finalists, grew up in Prineville and spent more than 18 years of his life in the area.

Currently the president of the Chemeketa Yamhill Valley branch campus, Lanning hopes to return to his roots in Central Oregon as the new president of COCC.  Photo by Jeremy Pierce | The Broadside.
Currently the president of the Chemeketa Yamhill Valley branch campus, Lanning hopes to return to his roots in Central Oregon as the new president of COCC. Photo by Jeremy Pierce | The Broadside.

Lanning visited COCC March 4-5, and according to the current Chemeketa Yamhill Valley campus president, most of the setting was already familiar.

“I went all the way from kindergarten to my senior year within the Crook County School District,” Lanning said. “I went to Redmond High for part of my senior year. My entire upbringing has been around here.”

Lanning planned on attending Central Oregon Community College after graduating high school, but switched to Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon, after receiving a scholarship to the institution.

The experience at Lane ended up kickstarting his interests, according to Lanning.

“I really became focused on what I wanted, academically and for myself, for my career,” Lanning said. “I know it was at Lane that I realized, ‘I want to be a teacher. That’s what I want to do.’”

Lanning continued his education, receiving a bachelor’s in psychology and a master’s in interdisciplinary studies from the University of Oregon. After getting his master’s, Lanning moved on to receiving a doctoral degree in community college leadership from Oregon State University.

In the midst of obtaining his degrees, Lanning started to implement his interests.

“After I completed my master’s degree, I did a year where I worked in a classified position [at Lane Community College] teaching some adjunct classes, and then my second year I was able to get a full-time teaching position,” Lanning said.

Lanning worked at Lane Community College for five years, eventually transitioning his way to dean. At the community college, he took dean positions over music, theater, arts, dance, applied design, and health and human performance. Lanning also diversified his leadership expertise through serving as program coordinator, faculty coordinator and eventually associate vice president for the Lane Community College, focusing on overall instruction. But after working at Lane for 15 years, Lanning decided to switch to Chemeketa Community College, where he has been working for the last seven years. Lanning also tried out a number of career interests at Chemekata.

“I’ve been the dean of instruction; I’ve been the associate vice president for instruction and student services for all instruction, credit and non-credit,” Lanning said. “For the last couple years I’ve been the president for our [Chemeketa’s] Yamhill Valley Campus and the chief academic officer for Chemeketa.”

Because of his work with academic programs, Lanning has a student-based focus.

“My passions are around helping students transform their lives,” Lanning said.

Struggles ahead for COCC in his eyes

If he came to COCC as the new president, Lanning would be interested in learning about a number of current connections and how to strengthen those ties. Lanning also thinks it is important for COCC to make sure its current growth does not lead to a financial downturn.

“Bringing on the new dorms is an area financially that we really have to look at,” Lanning said. “I think that the college has had significant growth without an infusion of investment from the state. The college has been spread really thin.”

Lanning is also concerned with finding funding for COCC at a state level. Oregon comes out 46 out of the 50 states for community college funding. This is not the best news, according to Lanning.

“If our state is serious about improving student success, there has to be an investment in the community college system,” Lanning said. “I’ve been a part of the conversation as an Oregon community college president for the last two years; I’d want to continue that conversation at the state level.”

But if Lanning came to COCC, he would be more interested in continuing and expanding current goals than forming new goals.

“I really think that COCC at this time doesn’t need an infusion of a bunch of new ideas,” Lanning said. “I think it’s really the focusing of the ideas. With limited resources it’s really about choosing those things that are most important.”

Lanning thinks his current expertise would be an addition to COCC’s staff. In his previous positions at both Lane and Chemeketa Community College, Lanning helped develop academic plans, something he would like to continue at COCC. Lanning also thinks working at two of the largest multi-campus districts in the state has given him an advantage in understanding campus growth and multi-system operations.

Lanning does think COCC is on the right track.

“I think that the college has done a good job with its financial sustainability planning, and I’d want to continue that,” Lanning said.

Meanwhile, Lanning believes coming back to the place of his childhood as president of COCC would be a step in the right direction.
“It’s that sense of peace, that sense of connection to place, and I just get really excited about giving back to the community,” Lanning said. “I think that there’s a long history of focusing on quality of what’s done at COCC.”

 

Junnelle Hogen
The Broadside

jhogen@cocc.edu

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