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Pine Manor searches for new president

Pine Manor College is officially seeking a new president and will not reinstate Alane Shanks, who was put on leave last fall in the wake of several investigations of her previous employer, Roxbury Community College.

The Pine Manor board of trustees voted unanimously earlier this week to form a search committee, according to a campus-wide e-mail sent Friday. Interim president Ellen Hurwitz will continue to run the school until a new leader is found.

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Shanks came to Pine Manor in 2011, and was billed — partly based on what she said was her experience at RCC — as a turnaround artist who could help the school recover from financial difficulties.

But her first year saw little improvement in several areas she had outlined as priorities, such as enrollment and fund-raising. In late 2011, the school was put on a two-year probation by its accrediting body, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

Shanks declined to comment on Saturday.

Last summer, controversy swirled around RCC after that school’s president, Terrence Gomes, stepped down amid federal and state investigations into lapses in crime reporting and financial and administrative mismanagement. Shanks was Gomes’s second-in-command for five years as vice president for administration and finance.

A Globe investigation in September and a subsequent, independent investigation by former federal prosecutor Wayne Budd raised serious questions about Shanks’s time at RCC.

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For instance, Budd’s report concluded that a struggling RCC student had been paid, perhaps “in exchange for her silence,” after she accused a campus official of sexually assaulting her. Shanks was the administrator who arranged for the payment and also apparently failed to report the student’s accusation to campus security personnel as required by federal law.

A different student accused the same official of sexually threatening behavior in 2006. Shanks fired the official shortly thereafter, but did not tell the college’s board of the incident or ensure that it was included in federally mandated crime statistics.

The Globe investigation, which covered much of the same territory as the Budd report, also found that Shanks apparently had given false testimony to the State Ethics Commission after that group investigated the college’s hiring of her husband as a consultant.

Trustees at Pine Manor were taken aback by the revelations. Several told the Globe that there had been no red flags when Shanks was hired, nor had any of them been advised that there was trouble at RCC until indications surfaced in the newspaper.

The school placed Shanks on paid administrative leave in September, several days after the Globe investigation was published.

Its trustees have been working since then to help the school regain its footing. The accrediting body gave the college a comprehensive progress review in the spring and a verdict on whether it will be removed from probation is due in the fall.

Mary Carmichael can be reached at marycarmichael@pobox.com.

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