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.
Connecticut College Art Department Presents “Saturation Point”
The Connecticut College Art Department will present “Saturation Point: New Paintings and Cyanotypes” at the Cummings Art Center Gallery. This exhibit will be on display from Sept. 3 through Oct. 13.
Artists and Connecticut College professors Chris Barnard and Timothy McDowell work in fluid media on two-dimensional surfaces, contemplating our present environmental, social and political landscapes while reflecting on past artistic practices. “Saturation Point” brings together large format paintings and cyanotype prints that merge artistic exploration with consideration of urgent questions of our time: How much human intervention can our planet sustain? How much division, disinformation and distraction can we collectively take? How much damage can men do? And how does art help people advance or retreat in the face of such challenges?
Barnard’s work focuses on white supremacy’s relationship to the privileged spaces of his experiences, such as private art and educational institutions. Recent paintings reflect his wrestling with the fact that such spaces, which have welcomed him and inspired his creativity, also actively and passively alienate and discourage–even dehumanize–many others. Stylistically, his paintings are illusionistic with a sense of space and light, but washes of color and bold gestures challenge each scene’s coherence, suggesting instability, corrosion and decay.
McDowell’s recent work responds to current social changes and environmental issues through a new approach to the cyanotype process. Support from the Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner Foundation enabled him to further develop this body of work and reassess the boundary between painting and photography. The large format cyanotypes in this exhibition are not to be conceived as a final statement, but rather as a few lines taken from an ongoing dialogue toward painting.
Admission is free. Gallery hours are 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 1-4 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. A lecture and reception with Chris Barnard and Timothy McDowell will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 12 in the Joanne Toor Cummings Art Gallery at the Cummings Arts Center.