By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

Faculty lashes Chemeketa for non-disclosure

Instead of learning of the suspension of the chief academic officer from Chemeketa, most of the college’s 750 faculty members discovered it from reports published first in the Bend Bulletin and subsequently in the McMinnville News-Register and Salem Statesman Journal.

“To not be told is poor management,” Hodgson said. “It’s like they felt we couldn’t be trusted,” she said of college leaders.

The official notice came in mid-April, nine weeks after Chemeketa President Cheryl Roberts placed Lanning on leave as chief academic officer and president of the college’s Yamhill Valley Campus in McMinnville. It was triggered by a report published the previous week in the Bulletin, after Lanning had emerged as the leading candidate for the Central Oregon Community College presidency in a search that has since been aborted.

Roberts took the action based on a report from a female member of the Chemeketa staff, who alleged unwanted sexual contact by Lanning during an early-February conference at a Portland hotel. He has not been charged with any crime in connection with the incident, but the victim has since filed a tort claim with the college, indicating an intent to file a civil suit seeking damages.

However, the college did not notify either its counterpart in Bend or its local faculty, and both reacted negatively.

Hodgson said, “He’s number two in the college, and our number one academic officer. When he’s not there, we should know that.”

She said Chemeketa faculty members are accustomed to frequent contact with Lanning. They’ve served on committees with him and joined him in projects designed to improve the quality of the college. They keep in touch by email and many consider him a friend.

“This is a pretty first-name-basis college,” Hodgson said. “We work very intimately.

“To not be told about something like this is shocking.”

Hodgson said faculty members are familiar with personnel regulations, so they would have understood if the college had told them it couldn’t disclose details. But at least the school could have explained Lanning had been placed on leave.

“The faculty felt it should have known who was taking over, for smooth operations,” she said.

Hodgson said the situation with Lanning is simply one more example of “the college not communicating and not having transparency.” And it led to rumors spreading — that he was sick and needed surgery, for instance.

“People were genuinely concerned,” she said. “If someone is gone for two months because they’re sick, that would be serious.”

The lack of notice from Chemeketa also led to an embarrassing situation in Bend, Hodgson noted.

Lanning had emerged as Central Oregon Community College’s top candidate for president. But late in the process, news broke that COCC had dropped him from consideration because he had failed to disclose his leave status.

Chemeketa faculty members felt that omission served to call their own integrity into question, Hodgson said. She said it was very hurtful to think people might have concluded the Chemeketa faculty also had such knowledge but failed to disclose it.

“A lot of us are very loyal, loving people who would do anything for the college,” she said. They would never knowingly misrepresent the school, she said.

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