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.
Arboretum offering three free gardening classes at the Public Library of New London
Three free classes being offered by the Connecticut College Arboretum designed to help city dwellers grow healthy, sustainable and beautiful urban gardens will meet on Tuesdays from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., on Feb. 27, March 6 and March 13 in the Community Room, 63 Huntington Street, New London. Registration is suggested; participants may sign up for one, two or all three classes. For further information or to register, call 860-439-5020 or email email@example.com.
Tuesday, February 27, Ecological Landscaping, with Maggie Redfern, associate director of the Connecticut College Arboretum.
Are you interested in cultivating a garden that is in harmony with nature? This presentation will introduce environmentally sound practices including planting native plants, removing exotic invasive plants, letting naturalized plants grow, minimizing water consumption and storm water runoff, reducing fossil fuel usage, and avoiding the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
Tuesday, March 6, Gardening for Wildlife, with Kim Hargrave from the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center.
As open spaces shrink, wildlife becomes dependent on our yards for survival. No matter where you live or the size of your yard, it can become an important part of an animal’s life. Attracting pollinators, birds and butterflies will all be covered.
Tuesday, March 13, Creating Rain Gardens, with Mike Dietz, NEMO Program Director.
(NEMO stands for Nonpoint Education for Municipal Officials, a program created at the University of Connecticut, as a collaboration of the Cooperative Extension System, the Connecticut Sea Grant College Program and the Natural Resources Management and Engineering Department.)
Rain gardens are increasingly being used to reduce stormwater pollution in Connecticut. Besides performing this important function, they can also enhance the landscape of your yard. This presentation will provide information on how to design, site, size, install and maintain rain gardens. Our smartphone app will also be highlighted.