Lanning likely to be new COCC president


The CCHS graduate emerged as the top candidate among three finalists

The hire is not yet official, but in all likelihood, Crook County High School graduate Patrick Lanning will be selected as the next Central Oregon Community College president.

Bruce Abernethy, who chairs the COCC board, said that Lanning has emerged as their top candidate after entering an interview process with two other finalists that included stops in Prineville, Redmond, Madras, and Bend.

Abernethy said Lanning rose to the top because of a variety of factors.

“His strongest selling point really was he just brought an incredible balance,” he said. “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’s talking about, rather than having to rely on their input.”

After completing high school in 1984, Lanning attended Lane Community College for two years before transferring to the University of Oregon, where he earned a Bachelor's Degree in psychology. He later received a Master's Degree in interdisciplinary studies, with a focus on social psychology. Lanning then completed his Doctorate of Education in the Community College Leadership Program, focused on adult learning, leadership, and shared governance at Oregon State University.

Throughout his career, Lanning has worked in a variety of positions for various colleges west of the Cascades, so the married father of three was excited for the opportunity to return to Central Oregon.

"I had professional reasons for wanting to be at COCC -- it's a great college," he said, "but for personal reasons, I am super excited to be coming home. That was a big part of why I wanted to apply."

Lanning spent all but a portion of his public school days in Crook County. During his senior year, an economic downturn prompted a cut in school athletics. Having excelled in sports, including a state championship in track and field, he was depending on an athletics scholarship to help pay for college, a need made all the more necessary when his dad lost his job at a local mill. Consequently, to complete his high school sports career, he transferred to Redmond High School.

Upon completion of his senior year, Lanning transferred his credits back to Crook County High School, where he not only enjoyed most of his sports career, but served as senior class president.

"I was pretty engaged in the school," he said.

As the head of COCC, Lanning hopes to provide each of the community campuses with the programs the area residents need.

"I currently work for Chemeketa (Community College District) which is a multi-campus district in different communities," he said. "One of the things that I have really worked on in the past seven years I have been at Chemeketa is helping with that academic planning to make sure that the programs that are really needed by those communities are the programs that are present."

Lanning added that he looks forward to meeting with business and industry leaders in each community to find out what needs they have.

Although the board has not hired Lanning yet, Abernethy said they are very confident in their choice. They need to complete a criminal background check and begin preliminary contract negotiations, but do not anticipate and issues.

"We clearly have done a lot of due diligence to date," he said. "There are a lot of checks that can be done at no or low cost. This one (the criminal background check) is in the $400 to $500 range. You don't do it early in the process. You do it when you are really serious about a candidate."

Meanwhile, Lanning eagerly awaits his return to Central Oregon where hopes to reconnect with family members and childhood friends.

"I am just super excited about that," he said.