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 presents Martha Redbone - 'Bone Hill: The Concert' April 6
The music is radically wide-ranging, from traditional Cherokee chants and lullabies to bluegrass and blues, country, gospel, jazz, rock ‘n’ roll, rhythm and blues, and funk: It’s Martha Redbone - “Bone Hill: The Concert,” to be presented by the onStage Guest Artist Series at 7:30 p.m., on April 6, in Evans Hall.
Martha Redbone is an American blues and soul singer of part Cherokee, Choctaw, European and African-American descent. “Bone Hill: The Concert” is inspired by her own life and the women who came before her; the lives of the Bone family members are told in songs that span a swath of American music with a parallel history. In this song cycle, Redbone becomes the characters from four generations of a family in the hills of coal-mining Appalachia, and the musicians are the townsfolk. The audience is taken on an epic, unexpected American exploration of family, history and cultural identity.
Dark and violent at times, Bone Hill is uncompromising in its desire to be honest about uncomfortable subjects, particularly colonization and race. It addresses issues and stories rarely heard in musical theater: The plight of the Cherokee people who returned home after the Trail of Tears; the U.S. Government’s racial reclassification legislatures of the Mid-Atlantic states; the American Indian and African-American interracial dynamic; and the ancient burial mounds on the Eastern seaboard, land which was desecrated for coal and the building of new mining towns during the early 1800s. Beyond reflecting the cultural and aesthetic diversity of today’s theater, Bone Hill adds diverse missing narratives – racial dynamics between Native and African-Americans, Native Americans and Europeans, and stories from the perspective of the women and the lives of people of color living in Appalachia, their culture and music. It reveals erased, forgotten truths and it does so with humor, pathos and exuberance.
General admission tickets for the concert are $22, $20 for seniors, and $11 for students. Tickets are available online, or call the box office located in Palmer Auditorium at 860-439-ARTS (2787).