Former Crook County resident Patrick Lanning was put on paid leave on Feb. 11

Last month, Central Oregon Community College board members publicly announced they had found their new college president.

All that remained were some final background checks and preliminary contract negotiations before they could make the hire official.

Now, they will have to start the search process all over again.

On Wednesday evening, the COCC board chose not to hire former Crook County resident Patrick Lanning after learning he had put on paid administrative leave by his current employer.

Lanning, the chief academic officer of instruction and student services for Chemeketa Community College District, was put on leave Feb. 11.

“COCC Board Chair Bruce Abernethy said the board has determined there are unanswered questions that provide concern and that the college needs to move forward,” COCC spokesman Ron Paradis said in a statement.

The college decided after deliberation in executive session to not hire any of the first batch of candidates and extend their search. No formal timeline has been set, but the process will likely begin in the fall. No decision was made regarding who will serve as president after June 30.

Selected from a group of three finalists, Lanning was proclaimed publicly as the top president candidate by COCC following interviews at several campuses throughout Central Oregon.

“His strongest selling point was he just brought an incredible balance,” said board chair Bruce Abernethy following the announcement in March. “He was not only a community college student himself, he had served in a variety of roles, which allowed him to have actual experience, so when he talks with administrators and to people below him, he’ll know what he is talking about rather than relying on their input.”

Lanning earned a Doctorate of Education degree, and has worked for a variety of colleges west of the Cascades. He was a standout athlete at Crook County High School in the mid-1980s.

Chemeketa’s Dean of Public Information Greg Harris declined to disclose the details behind placing Lanning on paid leave and would not comment on any timeframe associated with the decision.

“It is very disappointing to have gone through this process, involved so many members of the campus and the community, yet not be able to hire at this time,” Abernethy said. “I want to thank the members of the Search Advisory Committee and everyone who participated in the interview process. I know they will all be disappointed with the news.”

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