The Central Oregon Community College Board of Directors released their top candidate for presidency on March 7: Dr. Patrick Lanning.
Lanning, a Prineville native, stood out to the board, according to COCC Board Chair Bruce Abernethy.
“While we do have several more steps before concluding the process, the board is confident that Dr. Lanning has the background, experience and ability to lead this college into the future,” Abernethy said in a Friday, March 7 press release.
Lanning, the current campus president at the Yamhill Valley Campus of Chemeketa Community College, has worked in positions at both Chemeketa and Lane Community College. That formed part of the reason he stood out as a candidate, according to Ron Paradis, director of College Relations.
“I think Dr. Lanning did a great job his two days here,” Paradis said. “He has a great background in his experience, he’s worked in two of the larger community colleges in Oregon and has held leadership positions there.”
Prior to the announcement, the Board of Directors met with each of the three candidates. This helped narrow down the choices, according to Paradis.
“[The board] had an hour-and-a-half interview with each candidate, and many of the board members saw the candidates more than once,” Paradis said.
As the presidential finalist visits took place over the last two weeks, Paradis said several groups were able to share their input. While on campus, the candidates were able to meet with a number of groups, including the board.
“[At the executive session,] all of the different groups had representatives meet with the board and present what they saw were the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate,” Paradis said.
Additionally, everyone who attended meet-and-greet sessions with the three candidates – Dr. Sheila Ortego, Dana Young and Lanning – was asked to fill out a form. At the meeting on Wednesday, March 5, different groups engaging in the selection process looked at the compilation of those forms and voiced input on each candidate.
Feedback from the branch campuses was also considered, according to Paradis. The amount of input the board received “significantly enriched the process,” Abernethy said.
“I especially want to thank the hundreds of faculty, staff, students and community members who participated in the visits of our three candidates,” Abernethy said.
Lanning reacts to news
While the official board announcement was not until Friday, March 7, presidential candidate finalist Lanning heard the news the day before.
“A reporter with The Bulletin contacted me,” Lanning said. “It did feel great, and I’m excited about the news.”
Lanning had previously met with the board, talked to community members, visited the branch campuses, and met faculty, staff and students. The visit solidified his wish to switch to COCC, according to Lanning.
“During my visit, I got the feeling that COCC is such a vibrant community,” Lanning said. “Everyone is doing things here – the students are so engaged. When I came here, I thought, ‘This is the place I want to work.’”
Lanning already had a presupposition that the announcement would be made.
“My interviews with the board went well,” Lanning said. “I think that my leadership background also came out, and I felt the process went smoothly.”
If all goes well, Lanning think the transition in becoming COCC’s new president would go smoothly.
“I would look forward to working with everyone at the campus,” Lanning said.
Although the Board of Directors has named Lanning as their top pick, there is still room for change, according to Abernethy. The ongoing process will include additional reference checks, a site visit, and contract negotiations.
“The search process to select the next president of [COCC] continues,” Abernethy said. “We have not contacted any of the candidates at this time about next steps. We hope to be ready to announce our selection within the next couple of weeks.”
But while the COCC campus is still waiting on the Board of Director’s final decision, Paradis believes, the progress made so far has already sparked enthusiasm.
“I think the overall campus is pretty excited about it,” Paradis said. “It seems like [Lanning] will be a great fit for Central Oregon Community College.”