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.
onStage Guest Artist Series presents David Dorfman Dance new work ‘Aroundtown’
“Aroundtown,” the latest work by David Dorfman Dance (DDD), takes the stage in Palmer Auditorium, at Connecticut College, on Saturday, Oct. 21, at 7:30 p.m., presented by the College’s onStage Guest Artist Series.
“Aroundtown” is a kinetic poem that examines the varied, unique and sometimes divided notions of LOVE—its meaning, purpose and platform. With original music, text and visuals, the work explores commitment, community and intimacy in times of violence and strife. DDD's trademark empathy, sly humor and bombastic physicality are harnessed to examine LOVE as both sociopolitical and intimate interactions.
General admission tickets are $28; seniors $25; students $14 and are available online. Visit the onStage website for more information and to purchase tickets.
“Aroundtown” premiered at the Bates Dance Festival in July, and will make its New York City debut at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s BAM New Wave Festival on Nov. 8.
“We have the privilege of having David Dorfman Dance as dance company in residence at Connecticut College,” said Director of Arts Programming Robert Richter. “With that privilege comes the ability to see new dance works evolve. It is an honor to present and share this exciting new work with our community.”
DDD’s founder, David Dorfman ’81, wants “To get the whole world dancing!” His company is at the choreographic vanguard of realizing this vision, creating invigorating, innovative, and vibrant dance for and with everyday people. Celebrating its 30th year, DDD was founded in 1987 and has been the College’s company-in-residence since 2007. Dorfman received his master’s degree in fine arts from Connecticut College and chaired Dance Department for a decade. DDD has performed extensively throughout North and South America, Great Britain, Europe, and Central Asia and most recently in Greece, Tajikistan, Turkey, Armenia, Russia and Poland. DDD has regularly performed in New York City at major venues, including The Brooklyn Academy of Music, The Joyce Theater, The Kitchen, Danspace Project/St. Mark’s Church, La Mama Theater, and The Duke on 42nd Street. “Y”/Harkness Dance Festival. David Dorfman, the company’s dancers, and DDD’s artistic collaborators have been honored with eight New York Dance and Performance (Bessie) Awards.
In the inaugural Think.Do.Lead. podcast hosted by Connecticut College President Katherine Bergeron, David Dorfman '81 talks about his unlikely path to dance and how he discovered and nurtured his passion at Connecticut College.