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 Choirs, Guest Artists to Premiere ‘Seven Living Words of the HIV Positive’
Connecticut College, in partnership with the Dayton Artist in Residency Program, will host the award-winning professional Chorosynthesis Singers April 9-13. This week-long residency will culminate with a special concert, “Empowering Silenced Voices,” April 13 at 7:30 p.m. in Evans Hall, featuring music on themes of social justice, war, colonialism and non-heteronormative love, as well as the East Coast premiere of Thomas Schuttenhelm’s “Seven Living Words of the HIV Positive.”
Joining the Connecticut College Choirs during this performance will be guest baritone Stephen Lancaster of the University of Notre Dame and Chorosynthesis Singers. The week-long residency on campus will also host guest composer Schuttenhelm and guest conductor Jeremiah Selvey of Santa Monica College.
“As artists, musicians have power not only to practice advocacy outside their art, but also to get inside the heart of issues and become advocates through their art,” said Selvey.
“We’re honored to host performers and educators of this caliber, who are eager to share their knowledge with the local community,” said Wendy Moy, assistant professor of music and director of choral activities. “We’re especially proud to present a concert that brings a voice to the silenced, the underrepresented members of society, the oppressed and the stigmatized. The College is looking forward to an inspiring week of song.”
All events during the week are open to the public and sponsored by the Dayton Artist in Residency Program. The schedule of events is as follows:
Empowering Silenced Voices CD Release Party Tuesday, April 9, 7:30–9 p.m., Hood Dining Room, Blaustein Humanities Center Wendy Moy, assistant professor of music at Connecticut College; Jeremiah Selvey, co-artistic director of Chorosynthesis Singers; and members of the professional ensemble Chorosynthesis Singers will celebrate the release of their first double CD.
Entrepreneurship in Music Panel Wednesday, April 10, 11:50 a.m.–1:05 p.m., Fortune Hall, Cummings Arts Center Wendy Moy, assistant professor of music at Connecticut College and co-artistic director of Chorosynthesis Singers; Jeremiah Selvey, co-artistic director of Chorosynthesis Singers; Stephen Lancaster, head of the Graduate Voice Program at University of Notre Dame; and members of the professional ensemble Chorosynthesis Singers will discuss how to create a successful career in music.
Better Together Guest Recital with Stephen Lancaster, Baritone, and Jill Brunelle, Pianist Wednesday, April 10, 7:30 p.m., Evans Hall, Cummings Arts Center Stephen Lancaster, baritone and head of the Graduate Voice Program at the University of Notre Dame, and Jill Brunelle, pianist from the Yale School of Music, will present an evening of music on themes of togetherness. Chorosynthesis Singers will also perform a set in collaboration with Lancaster.
Seeing the World Through a Composer’s Eyes Composer Talk with Guest Thomas Schuttenhelm Thursday, April 11, 11:50 a.m.–1:05 p.m., Cummings 224 Thomas Schuttenhelm, composer of Chorosynthesis Singers’ commissioned work and artistic director for Network for New Music, will join us for a conversation while sharing the journey of composing “Seven Living Words of the HIV Positive.”
Vocal Masterclass with Stephen Lancaster Featuring Connecticut College voice students Friday, April 12, 4–5:30 p.m., Evans Hall Stephen Lancaster, baritone and head of the Graduate Voice Program at the University of Notre Dame, will work with three of Connecticut College’s advanced voice students.
Empowering Silenced Voices Saturday, April 13, 7:30 p.m., Evans Hall Connecticut College Choirs and the award-winning professional Chorosynthesis Singers will perform music on themes of social justice, war, colonialism and non-heteronormative love, as well as the East Coast premiere of Thomas Schuttenhelm’s “Seven Living Words of the HIV Positive.” Tickets available online.
For more information, contact the Connecticut College Box Office at (860) 439-2787.