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's Ammerman Center Presents Scholar and Activist Sasha Costanza-Chock
Connecticut College’s Ammerman Center for Arts and Technology will host Sasha Costanza-Chock for a guest lecture on social movements and design justice at 1 p.m. on Nov. 1 in the 1941 Room in the College Center at Crozier-Williams.
Costanza-Chock’s talk, entitled “Transformative Organizing from #TechWontBuildIt to #DesignJustice,” describes the emergence of design justice, a field of theory and practice that observes how the design of objects and systems influence benefits and burdens between various groups of people. Design justice focuses on the ways that design creates and/or challenges systems of oppression. It is also a growing social movement that aims to ensure equity and recognition of community-based design traditions, knowledge, and practices.
Sasha Costanza-Chock (pronouns: they/them or she/her) is a scholar, activist, designer, and media-maker, and currently Associate Professor of Civic Media at MIT. They are a faculty associate at the Berkman-Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, faculty affiliate with the MIT Open Documentary Lab and creator of the MIT Codesign Studio. Their work focuses on social movements, transformative media organizing, and design justice. Sasha’s first book, “Out of the Shadows, Into the Streets: Transmedia Organizing and the Immigrant Rights Movement” was published by the MIT Press in 2014. Their new book, “Design Justice: Community-Led Practices to Build the Worlds We Need” will be published in early 2020. Sasha is a board member of Allied Media Project and a Steering Committee member of the Design Justice Network.
This talk is a part of (Re)Generation, this year’s theme for the work of the Ammerman Center, which is looking back on the successes of its 30-plus year history and how it needs to change moving forward to support a more equitable and conscientious field.