By Tyler Leeds

The Bulletin

The Central Oregon Community College employee who witnessed events preceding an incident that resulted in COCC’s top presidential candidate being accused of sexual misconduct said he did not notice anything unusual.

The employee, John Chavez, an academic adviser, was visiting Portland for the “2014 Annual Student Success & Retention Conference” on Feb. 6. Also at the conference was Patrick Lanning, who COCC was poised to appoint as its next president on March 17 until learning he was on paid administrative leave pending an investigation. The investigation concerned what happened between Lanning and a female colleague following a night of drinking where Chavez was briefly present. After Chavez left for the night, Lanning allegedly went to the claimant’s room, where she awoke naked the next day with no memory of what happened.

Lanning, 48, is currently chief academic officer of instruction and student services for the Chemeketa Community College District and Yamhill Valley Campus president in McMinnville. Lanning was not charged following an investigation by the Port of Portland, but Chemeketa’s investigation is ongoing and Lanning remains on paid administrative leave.

Chavez joined Lanning and other Chemeketa employees at the Sheraton Portland Airport Hotel bar because he knew Manuel Guerra, Chemeketa’s dean of student retention and college life, who was also present. Chavez was a student at Chemeketa from 2006 to 2007 and interned at the college’s international students office from 2007 to 2009. During his time there, he did not know Lanning.

“I was in the hotel lobby when the group got back from dinner and then met up with my former boss, Manuel Guerra,” Chavez said in a statement provided to The Bulletin. “I had part of a beer and then one drink when a round was purchased for everyone in the group.”

Chavez said he did not notice anything inappropriate happening between Lanning and anyone else in the group. According to police reports, Lanning and the claimant were flirting and touching one another while at the bar.

Chavez said he did not realize Lanning was dropped from consideration due to the events that allegedly followed their evening at the bar until he read The Bulletin’s story on the police report.

— Reporter: 541-633-2160,