Connecticut College selects Les Wong as interim president
The Connecticut College Board of Trustees has unanimously elected Leslie E. Wong, Ph.D., a nationally respected leader in higher education, to become interim president of Conn, effective July 1, 2023.
Wong will succeed Katherine Bergeron, whose nearly decade-long tenure as Conn’s 11th president concludes June 30. He will serve until the College’s 12th president is selected and assumes office.
Wong, a former president of San Francisco State University and Northern Michigan University and a former interim president of the University of Southern Colorado, has been a member of Conn’s Board of Trustees since 2019. He will resign his role as a recently re-elected trustee and serve on the Board in an ex officio capacity, as is customary, until the 12th president is appointed.
In his announcement to the Conn community, Debo P. Adegbile ’91, chair of the College’s Board of Trustees, said, “Les has deep experience in higher education leadership and a strong understanding of Connecticut College through his Board of Trustees service and committee-related work. As a member of the Board of Trustees since 2019, Les is well known to many in the Conn community. His commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion has been evident throughout his academic career. Due to his extensive presidential leadership experience and knowledge of Connecticut College, Les is uniquely positioned to assume this important role.”
In his initial message to the Conn community, Wong said, “It is such an honor to be named interim president of Connecticut College. Since I joined the Board in 2019, the faculty, staff, students, administrators and alumni have shown me the resolve, the persistence and the spirit that are needed for a great college to confront whatever comes before it.”
He added, “As a steward of this institution, I believe we have a tremendous opportunity at hand, particularly in executing our strategic plan, Building on Strength, which will guide me during my role as interim president. This role requires considerable listening and dialogue as well as a willingness to engage ideas and aspirations of everyone at Conn.”
As a member of the Board of Trustees since 2019, Wong has served on the Executive Committee, chaired the Faculty-Trustee Liaison Committee and served as vice chair of the Committee on Academic Affairs. He received his Ph.D. in educational psychology from Washington State University and previously served as president of San Francisco State University and Northern Michigan University for a combined total of 15 years. Before these roles, he served as vice president of Academic Affairs of Valley City State University and as interim president, provost and academic vice president of the University of Southern Colorado. He is married to Phyllis Michael Wong, who is the author of the award-winning non-fiction book We Kept Our Towns Going.
Wong, who identifies as a person of Mexican and Chinese ancestry, has served on the NCAA’s Task Force on Equity and Inclusion. He led a national effort to admit Mexican universities into Division II of the NCAA and since 1985 has worked closely with the State Department to promote U.S.-China relations as well as the well-being of Chinese Americans. He also led California’s statewide effort to expand Project Rebound, a social justice initiative that helps formerly incarcerated students to earn college degrees.
With Conn’s interim president position now filled, the Board of Trustees will turn its full attention to the search for the College’s 12th president. A 15-member search committee of trustees, faculty, staff and students plans by late June to select a national executive search firm that specializes in higher education. The firm’s first steps will include seeking input from a cross-section of senior administrators, faculty, staff, students, alumni, parents and other friends and supporters of the College.
Intersections, an immigration- and identity-themed art exhibit
‘Intersections’ will benefit the local Immigration Advocacy and Support Center.
The Connecticut College Art Department will present the work of Corina S. Alvarezdelugo, Rafael Colón, Guido Garaycochea, Mohamad Hafez, Tedman David Martínez Onofre, Nadine Renazile, and Pierre Sylvain in “Intersections: A Benefit Exhibition for the Immigration Advocacy and Support Center.”
This exhibition, on view Sept. 5 through Oct. 12, 2017 in the College’s Cummings Arts Center Galleries, brings together artists who were born outside the United States and now live and work in the region. A reception for the artists will take place Saturday, Sept. 23, from 4 to 5:30 p.m., in Cummings.
The trajectories of the participating artists, originally from Peru, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Haiti, and Syria and now working in New London, Middletown, New Haven, and New York, intersect generatively at this group show. While each artist’s emigration to the U.S. has been distinct, all share the experience of building community and making a home in a new place, while also remaining deeply connected across distance to people and places of origin.
Similarly, while these artists work in varied media—from painting to printmaking to sculptural installation—and are inspired by varied topics—from spiritual traditions to the War in Syria to gentrification—their featured works reflect common themes such as bridging cultures and negotiating the joys, struggles and sorrows created by gaps between communities past and present, near and far.
For this exhibition, artists have generously agreed to offer their work for sale with half of all proceeds donated to the Immigration Advocacy and Support Center (IASC). A New London-based non-profit, IASC supports immigrants by providing low cost, high quality legal services. IASC also works in the community more broadly to advocate for and educate about immigration policy. As part of this ongoing education and advocacy, IASC maintains a partnership with Connecticut College; each semester, several students intern with IASC.
Alongside and in support of this exhibition, three Connecticut College art major alumni—Miles Ladin ’90, Juan Flores ’16, and Melissa Luen ’17—will present selections of their work in Cummings’ 3rd floor gallery spaces. The featured works, also available for purchase with half the proceeds directed to IASC, all deal with im/migrant narratives and multicultural identities in the U.S.
To extend the exhibition’s impact, artist Mohamad Hafez will also give a public lecture on Wednesday, Sept. 13, from 4:15 to 5:30 p.m. In addition, the Art Department and The Toor Cummings Center for International Studies and the Liberal Arts will co-host a panel discussion about immigrants’ rights and immigration policy on Saturday, Oct. 7, from 3 to 4 p.m. The panel features IASC attorney Mike Doyle and Lauren Burke, a 2006 graduate of Connecticut College who traveled across the U.S. offering free legal advice and policy training as part of her venture ImmigrationNation.
The exhibition and related programming are grounded in a commitment to foster inclusive art experiences and a desire to bring timely issues and diverse audiences together on campus. In every sense, it has been a collaborative effort—among and between Art Department faculty, artists, immigration advocates, and various Connecticut College entities and alumni.
This exhibition is the first initiative in a yearlong series of collaborative programming co-sponsored by the College’s Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity and the Arts Division around the theme of “Intersections.” The exhibition is made possible with generous support from the Dayton Visiting Artist Fund, which enables students to encounter and learn from artists who might not otherwise be accessible in an academic setting.