By Tyler Leeds

The Bulletin

The man Central Oregon Community College hopes to hire as its next president has been on paid administrative leave for nearly two months.

Patrick Lanning was described as the school’s “top choice” by Board President Bruce Abernethy following a national search that brought three candidates to campus in February and March. Lanning, 48, is chief academic officer of instruction and student services for the Chemeketa Community College District and its Yamhill Valley Campus president in McMinnville. The college’s dean of public information, Greg Harris, said that Lanning was placed on paid administrative leave on February 11, but declined to offer any further information.

COCC’s spokesman Ron Paradis said in a statement, “The COCC board has been conducting background checks prior to formalizing its decision. Information about the leave came up as part of the board’s due diligence. The board is continuing its review in order to determine appropriate next steps.”

Paradis did not offer any details into what the board’s background check has uncovered thus far.

On March 14, the college sent out a news release saying it would appoint a new president on March 17, singling out Lanning as its “top candidate” and noting that five COCC representatives had visited the Yamhill Valley Campus. On March 17, the college postponed that meeting.

COCC interviewed two other candidates to succeed current president Jim Middleton — Dana Young, president of Treasure Valley Community College in Ontario, and Sheila Ortego, interim president of the community campus at Pima Community College in Tucson, Ariz.

In early March, Abernethy said the COCC board did not have a second choice for president.

— Reporter: 541-633-2160,