COCC announces presidential finalists

The search for Jim Middleton’s successor is down to three

By Tyler Leeds / The Bulletin

Published Feb 1, 2014 at 12:01AM

Central Oregon Community College has narrowed its search for President Jim Middleton’s successor to three candidates.

Middleton announced last April that he would step down this June after leading the college for a decade. The candidates are:

•  Patrick Lanning, Yamhill Valley Campus president in McMinnville and chief academic officer of instruction and student services for the Chemeketa Community College District.

•  Sheila Ortego, interim president of the community campus at Pima Community College in Tucson, Ariz.

•  Dana Young, president of Treasure Valley Community College in Ontario.

The candidates are expected to visit COCC in the second half of February, interviewing with the board and attending public forums at each of COCC’s four campuses — in Bend, Redmond, Prineville and Madras.

Lanning is a Prineville native and graduate of Crook County High School. He holds a doctorate in education from Oregon State University’s community college leadership program. Prior to his current roles, Lanning taught at Lane Community College before progressing to associate vice president for instruction.

Lanning said he was drawn to the position for both professional and personal reasons. First, he said, he has a great deal of experience at every level of community college work and would like to be able to work more closely with workforce development and transfer programs.

“The college has a long history for really being focused on quality,” he said. “And for personal reasons, I was born and raised in Central Oregon. ... My family has been in the area for a long time, and I’d love the opportunity to be a part of providing leadership and giving back to the community.”

Lanning said being in Salem for seven years has involved him in legislative work.

He also noted he has experience creating collaborative agreements that help high school students get credit and increase the number of students coming directly from high school.

“I’ve been a part of developing both public partnerships with other schools, and also I’ve been a part of establishing partnerships with community college and local workforce providers and local companies that focus on economic development for the region,” he said. “That’s a big part of the work we’ve done in Chemeketa and Lane.”

Ortego spent six years as president of Sante Fe Community College before taking her interim post in Tuscon. She earned a doctorate from the University of New Mexico in American studies and was awarded the 2011 “CEO of the Year” award from the New Mexico Business Weekly. She grew up in Albuquerque and said she was drawn to COCC in part for its reputation.

“It has highly qualified, committed faculty, great stability and a great mission in terms of both transfer and workforce development,” she said.

She pointed to her experience creating programs that focus on strengthening the economy.

“That’s really my passion: high-skill, high-wage jobs,” Ortego said, noting she started an advanced technology center at Santa Fe Community College. “It really did what it was supposed to do: give fast-track training for people needing to make a living wage in a short amount of time. ... COCC has got a program mix that I’m very familiar with.”

Young, who grew up in Baker City, became Treasure Valley president in 2010. Prior to her appointment, Young worked as vice president for student affairs at Northwest College in Powell, Wyo., and vice president of student and enrollment services at Blue Mountain Community College in Pendleton. Young holds an MBA from Portland State University and is pursuing a doctorate in community college leadership from Colorado State University in Fort Collins.

“I’m excited by the growth, and that COCC is in such an innovative and entrepreneurial community,” she said. “There are so many things going on, it’s just exciting.”

Young said her experience with residence halls in both Wyoming and at Treasure Valley Community College will help as COCC prepares to build a new dorm. And she said she has other qualifications as well.

“I think the focus that will be placed on enrollment and student retention and completion will match with my background in student services,” she said. “I have over 30 years in community college experience, 15 in leadership roles, and I think all of those things will be really beneficial.”

— Reporter: 541-633-2160, tleeds@bendbulletin.com

Sheila G. Miller contributed to this report.