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.
Open Books: A New Dialogue exhibition opens Nov. 15
A new exhibition, “Open Books: A New Dialogue,” will open Wednesday, Nov. 15, in the Charles Chu Asian Art Reading Room at the Charles E. Shain Library, with a panel discussion and reception from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Panelists include Chen Zijin; Zhang Hao; Zhu Chunhang; Mary Husted; Sue Hunt; Thomas Martin; Shen Chen; Richard Vine; Christopher Steiner, Lucy C. McDannel '22 Professor of Art History and Anthropology and the College's Director of the Museum Studies Program; Peter Drake, Dean of Academic Affairs at New York Academy of Art; Andrea Wollensak, Professor of Art and Judith Ammerman '60 Director of the Ammerman Center for Arts and Technology; Zhijian Qian, and Yibing Huang, Associate Professor of Chinese and Curator of the Chu-Griffis Asian Art Collection.
The exhibition is free and open to the public through Jan. 31, 2018. The exhibit will not be open during the College's winter break from Dec. 23-Jan. 2, 2018, and will be open 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. from Jan. 3-19.
This international exhibition features artists from China, the United States, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and India whose works are inspired by or responding to the traditional Chinese art format of the folding album. It investigates how artists from diverse cultural traditions and artistic backgrounds creatively utilize the unique format not only as a way of self-expression, but, more importantly, as a method of cross-cultural dialogue and collaboration in the era of globalization. Among the 45 artists selected for the exhibition, 20 are non-Chinese and 25 are from China, including internationally renowned artists such as Xu Bing, Wang Dongling, Ding Yi, and Ye Yongqing.
This exhibition is organized by the Chu-Griffis Asian Art Collection at Connecticut College in collaboration with the Sanshang Contemporary Art Museum in Hangzhou, China, with special sponsorship from the China National Arts Fund. It is co-curated by Dr. Zhijian Qian, assistant professor of art history from City University of New York and Dr. Yibing Huang, acting curator of the Chu-Griffis Asian Art Collection and associate professor of Chinese at Connecticut College.
“Open Books: A New Dialogue” is adapted from the Open Books project, which was initiated by Welsh artist Mary Husted in 2012 and has since been exhibited in the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, mainland China, Australia, Canada, and India. The current show will be its first exhibition in the United States.