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.
Dance concert, "degrees of disarray," showcases senior dance majors April 19-21
Connecticut College's nine senior dance majors have spent the past two semesters crafting original material both individually and in collaborative seminars led by Professor of Dance David Dorfman. The eclectic concert of senior capstone projects, "degrees of disarray," represents a culmination of their four years at the College, displaying each dancer’s unique movement vocabulary.
Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 19 and Friday, April 20, and at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 21, all in Palmer Auditorium. Tickets are General Admission $12; students and seniors, $6, available at the door, or contact the Palmer Box Office, 860-439-ARTS.
Two seniors, Marissa Chura and Emily Green, will perform solos created by a choreographer of their choosing. Over the course of the semester, Derrick Yanford worked with Chura, and Kellie Lynch worked with Green. Both respected performers, choreographers, and teachers, Lynch and Yanford have worked with dancers of the department as guests artists in the past.
The other seven seniors, Grace Bradley, Kelli Carlson, Emily Chin, Maddy Dickey, Kelley Fairman, Sénait Judge-Yoakam, and Augie Sherman, will debut their own choreographic works. These group dances feature Connecticut College students, many of whom major or minor in dance.
“degrees of disarray” opens with a work by David Dorfman, performed by all nine senior majors. The show also includes work by Connecticut College Dance Department Chair Shani Collins-Achille, whose dance premiered in March in Senegal. The program closes with renowned Kate Weare Company’s “Marksman.” Kate Weare Company dancers Ryan Rouland Smith and Thryn Saxon were in residency during the spring semester to teach this demanding work to a select group of Connecticut College dance majors.