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.
Future Perfect: Exhibition at Hygienic Art Gallery, Feb. 16-March 3
Future Perfect, an exhibition opening and reception from 4:30-9 p.m. on February 16 at the Hygienic Art Gallery in New London, features a roster of artists from around the world whose work explores the complex forces pushing and pulling our technological culture, and our own identities within it. Their work speculates on present and future fusions and intersections between our rich internal worlds, our bodies, our relationships, and the strange inner lives of artificial intelligences, data clouds and social algorithms.
Future Perfect, which runs through March 3, is being presented in conjunction with the Hygienic Art Gallery, 79 Bank Street, New London, Connecticut, www.hygienic.org. The exhibition is free and open to the public, and is one of the features of the 16th Biennial Symposium on Arts and Technology organized by the Ammerman Center for Arts & Technology at Connecticut College. The symposium, now in its thirty-second year, is a forum for multidisciplinary dialogue at the intersection of arts, technology and contemporary culture.
It is increasingly understood that our lives are pushed, pulled and interconnected by a range of intersections among multiple factors of identity and experience including: gender, culture, race, sexuality, and economic and technological contexts, among others. Through works across mediums such as virtual reality video games, social media performance, experimental documentary, interactive sculpture, locally produced audio tours, and more, the artists in the show ask and offer their own answers to questions such as:
What if our machines touch and activate us just as much as we them? What if they could read our emotions, respond to our bodies, and perhaps try to change us back? Are they doing it already? What if we downloaded a digital version of all the objects in the world? Where would it be stored? Are we slowly converting our planet into data? At what cost? How will this city look, feel, and sound, in 10, 20, 100 years? What will you do if the world ends tomorrow?
Angela Ferraiolo Eunsu Kang Erin Gee and Alex Lee Luis Mejico Ricardo Miranda Veronica Mockler Shalev Moran, Mushon Zer-Aviv and Milana Gitzin-Adiram Juan Pablo Pacheco Mina Rafiee Joyce Rudinsky Laura Skocek and Christoph Gruber Jack Stenner Jeff Thompson Jenny Vogel