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.
"Network Effects," Natalie Bookchin's exhibition of media works, Jan. 22-March 2
NETWORK EFFECTS, an exhibition in the Cummings Arts Center Galleries at Connecticut College, will open Jan. 22 and run through March 2, presenting media works by Natalie Bookchin made over the past decade on themes ranging from mass isolation and unemployment to the rise of white nationalism in America.
Bookchin is a Brooklyn-based artist whose critically acclaimed films, multi-channel media installations, and online works investigate the seismic impact of the digital tools, platforms, and algorithms that increasingly determine the shape and texture of contemporary life.
Network Effects, which is free and open to the public, is one of the featured exhibitions for the 16th Biennial Symposium on Arts and Technology organized by the Ammerman Center for Arts & Technology at Connecticut College. The symposium, now in its thirty-second year, is a forum for multidisciplinary dialogue at the intersection of arts, technology and contemporary culture.
Bookchin is considered a pioneering media artist and a virtuosic editor who creates mass portraits of the shared self. Her montages are composed of fragments of found videos from YouTube as well as those of her own making and suggest a modern equivalent of the ancient Greek chorus, where ordinary people comment and reflect on the deeds and missteps of society and the powerful.
The exhibition features LONG STORY SHORT, a film that deploys a dizzying multiplicity of frames and voices and features deeply moving, unadorned testimony from over 100 people facing poverty in America. Also on view will be NOW HE’S OUT IN PUBLIC AND EVERYONE CAN SEE, a riveting and racially charged account of an unnamed man, drawn from an archive of video blogger’s rantings and musings as they describe, judge, and prescribe the places and positions of black men in America. Other works in the exhibition address the blurred lines between public and private space in our “always on” society.
Additional support for the exhibition is provided by the Connecticut College Studio Art Department and the College's Dayton Visiting Artist Fund. Nadav Assor, is the exhibition's curator. For more information, contact 860-439-2001, or email cat.conncoll.edu.
LONG STORY SHORT 2016. 45 min. Courtesy Icarus Films.
In the moving and immersive LONG STORY SHORT, over 100 people at homeless shelters, food banks, adult literacy programs, and job training centers in L.A. and the Bay Area discuss their experiences of poverty: why they are poor, how it feels, and what they think should be done about American poverty and homelessness today. While individuals whom Bookchin filmed in separate spaces appear on screen in their own visual spaces, mirroring the isolation of their experiences, words flow between them like a musical ensemble. Together in the film for the first time, Americans who are rarely acknowledged or listened to form a virtual collective.
NOW HE’S OUT IN PUBLIC AND EVERYONE CAN SEE 2012/2017. 24 min. Courtesy Icarus Films.
A riveting account of an unnamed man whose racial identity is repeatedly redrawn and contested by masses of impassioned vloggers. This intricately edited, deeply political film explores our new social landscape, one where cascades of disinformation, rumors, and insinuations spread wildly across electronic networks.
"An absolutely staggering work of art ... A stunning reflection of a society that is grappling with the notion of African American men as threats; that there might be places where they should and shouldn't be." - The Los Angeles Times
"Inventive and revealing." - The New York Times
TESTAMENT (4 CHAPTERS) 2009 - 2017 Testament presents a series of collective expressions of the shared self. The series reflects on the peculiar blend of intimacy and anonymity, of the simultaneous connectivity and isolation of contemporary social relations.
MASS ORNAMENT 2009, 7 min. “With a keen eye for detail, a terrific sense of timing and a killer instinct for editing, [Bookchin] has clipped and combined hundreds of vignettes from YouTube and set them to the soundtracks from Busby Berkeley’s GOLD DIGGERS OF 1935 and Leni Riefenstahl’s TRIUMPH OF THE WILL. […] To watch the split-screen extravaganza is to feel as if you are at once enjoying a god’s-eye view of a vast, everyday parade of vulnerable human beings and also an intimate part of a democratic drama that is deeply moving.” – The Los Angeles Times
PARKING LOT 2008, 13 min. Appropriations from virtual and physical commercial spaces create temporary public space — dismal, endlessly reproduced, anonymous spaces where even creative improvisations can appear mass-produced.