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Pine Manor president on leave amid questions about RCC stint

Dr. Alane Shanks has been placed on paid leave from Pine Manor College.

Pine Manor College

Dr. Alane Shanks has been placed on paid leave from Pine Manor College.

Alane Shanks, the former Roxbury Community College vice president of administration and finance who is a key figure in ongoing state and federal investigations at the college, is on paid administrative leave from her current job as president of Pine Manor College, effective immediately.

Pine Manor’s board chairwoman, Serena Kokjer Greening, said in a campus-wide email today that “the change follows reports of ongoing investigations at RCC, where Ms. Shanks was formerly employed. We support President Shanks and have allowed her this time on paid leave to deal with the current situation.”

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Shanks, who joined Pine Manor last year after five years at RCC, was heavily implicated in a Globe investigation of the community college that was published Sunday and Monday.

For instance, in 2008, by her own account, Shanks told the State Ethics Commission that she played no role in RCC’s hiring of her husband Jeremy Solomons and that she never supervised his work there or discussed it with him. A letter from the commission shows it cleared her of wrongdoing based on her testimony.

But the Globe obtained an email revealing that the two did discuss his work. It strongly suggests Shanks was acting as Solomons’ supervisor.

In the e-mail, Solomons writes to Shanks: “I feel as though I must be going mad. It doesn’t look as though we were putting any limit on ESL courses except that they had to be taking at least one allowable credit to go with it. I am not sure now where that 45 came from, or whether I was ignoring it lost in the forest of the data.” He goes on to list several student files that seem to be problematic.

David Giannotti, chief of communications for the Ethics Commission, said that due to strict confidentiality rules, he could not comment on the matter or on whether the commission would reopen the investigation given the new evidence.

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The Globe’s investigation also found that Shanks was alleged to have played a role in several other incidents that have drawn the attention of government regulators. The federal Department of Education, for instance, is investigating possible lapses in crime reporting with a specific focus on five college employees who were accused of various sexual transgressions. In three of the employees’ cases, two different administrative assistants alleged that Shanks either had asked for personnel files and not returned them promptly or was supervising the human resources office at a time when files temporarily went missing.

Shanks told the Globe that in one case she did not know “why the report hasn’t been located” and in the others she “wasn’t aware that anyone ever considered [either file] ‘missing.’ ”

On Tuesday, Paul Alexander, the school’s current human resources director, said he had recently located one of the files, which the college had been unable to find for many months before. The file had shown up, unmarked, in a room that had not had its locks changed in years, Alexander said.

Pine Manor, a small, financially strapped, women’s college in Chestnut Hill, serves a similar mission to RCC’s, as well as a similarly socioeconomically disadvantaged population. It hired Shanks last year.

Several Pine Manor officials with direct knowledge of her hiring said there were no red flags during the vetting process, which was partly handled by the headhunting firm Witt/Kiefer, and that the school did not know of any trouble at RCC until indications of it surfaced in the Globe this spring.

Clarification: This story may have implied that David Giannotti, spokesman for the State Ethics Commission, acknowledged a 2008 investigation of Alane Shanks, a former administrator at Roxbury Community College. Giannotti did not provide any comment on whether there had been, or would be, an investigation. The Globe had obtained a letter showing that the commission investigated Shanks and was inquiring as to whether the matter would be reopened.

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