Dr. Patrick Lanning, the previous “top candidate” for presidency at the college, is being investigated following claims of sexual misconduct.
Following a public records request from The Bulletin on April 9, a tort claim notice filed with Chemeketa Feb. 24 revealed that an employee of the community college was threatening to sue with allegations against Lanning. According to the claimant, the current campus president at Yamhill Valley Campus committed acts of sexual contact or abuse while at the 2014 Annual Student Success and Retention Conference. The employee who filed the tort claim specified that the event was at the claimant’s hotel room in the Sheraton Portland Airport Hotel from late Feb. 6 to early Feb. 7.
Attempts from The Broadside to contact Lanning have been unsuccessful to date.
While the tort claim notice was released recently, board members from Central Oregon Community College were privy to some of the knowledge earlier in the process.
March 4-5, Lanning visited the campus as part of the steps to narrow down the presidential pool. At that time, Lanning was one of three presidential finalists. On March 7, Lanning was announced as the top candidate. The board was not yet aware of the allegations at that point, according to Ron Paradis, COCC’s director of college relations.
“We knew nothing about this prior to March 17,” Paradis said.
However, information was released to the board on March 17 that Lanning was on administrative leave from Chemeketa Community College. The COCC Board of Directors had traditionally expected to announce Lanning as “the candidate” that day, according to Paradis, but instead delayed making a decision.
Meanwhile, COCC was in contact with Chemeketa to discuss the implications of Lanning being on administrative leave.
“We conducted our own investigation,” Paradis said. “We were aware that Chemeketa was conducting an investigation.”
At the same time, COCC was maintaining contact with Lanning. The college’s consultant, the Association of Community College Trustees, and Board Chair Bruce Abernethy were both working with Lanning at that time.
During this process, information about the nature of Lanning’s administrative leave did get out, according to Paradis. On April 9, the board voted to not hire Lanning as COCC’s next president, and instead of choosing one of the two other final candidates, to start the search process over.
“Having some of that information [about the administrative leave] is what prompted the decision,” Paradis said.
What’s next for Lanning
While a tort claim has been filed against Lanning, his guilt has yet to be proven. Chemeketa is taking steps to uncover the truth, according to Greg Harris, the marketing director with Chemeketa Community College.
“There is an investigation going on right now about the allegations,” Harris said. “We have lawyers looking into it.”
The tort claim notice has yet to be filed with a public entity, which means that the Chemeketa employee filing the notice is not yet at the stage of suing for damages.
If Lanning is found to be innocent, then he could have his name cleared before the continued presidential search begins fall 2014. Whether or not that happens, Lanning can still submit an application, according to Paradis.
“Well, of course he has that option to apply,” Paradis said. “Until we know the outcome I don’t think I or anyone else would have any thought on how that candidacy would be received.”
Junnelle Hogen | The Broadside