College’s choice for president dropped after claim

BEND, Ore. — Central Oregon Community College decided not to hire its top choice for college president after discovering he was put on leave by another institution when a colleague accused him of sexual misconduct.

The community college was poised to name Patrick Lanning its next president March 17, but it postponed the board’s vote without explanation. On April 9, the board voted to drop Lanning from consideration.

A colleague filed a tort-claim notice with Chemeketa Community College, Lanning’s current employer, on Feb. 24, accusing Lanning of sexual misconduct at a Portland airport hotel in early February, The Bulletin of Bend reported.

Lanning has not been accused of a crime. He could not be reached Saturday by The Associated Press.

Lanning did not disclose to Central Oregon’s board that he was on leave.

Lanning was asked if there was anything in his past that could be an embarrassment to the college, to which Lanning responded in the negative, Central Oregon spokesman Ron Paradis said.

“I believe this all should have come up,” Paradis said of Central Oregon’s interviews with Chemeketa employees and Lanning. “We certainly felt like we asked if there was other information we needed to know about.”

Ron Bryant, Central Oregon’s attorney, led an investigation to discover why Lanning was on leave and obtained a copy of a tort-claim notice filed with Chemeketa on Feb. 24.

The Bulletin newspaper also obtained a tort claim from Chemeketa, but the names were redacted. Bryant confirmed to the newspaper that Lanning is the person accused in the notice. A tort-claim notice must be filed with a public entity before a claimant can sue for damages.

Lanning was the school’s top pick after a national search that brought three candidates to campus in February and March.

The school will conduct a new search this year, and as a result, Central Oregon probably will not have a new president until the summer of 2015.

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