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.
Holleran Center presents Program in Community Action student research findings April 8
Holleran Center scholars have been immersed in issues of education, health, economic development and human rights participating in research and internships all over the world and right here in New London. They have worked with local organizations such as Safe Futures, the Homeless Hospitality Center, Alzheimer’s’ Association, Lawrence & Memorial Hospital, New London Public Schools, FRESH New London, Planned Parenthood, and more. Now they are sharing what they’ve learned with the broader community.
On April 8, seniors from the Holleran Center’s certificate Program in Community Action and Public Policy (PICA) will present research findings from their Senior Integrative Projects in a series of six panel discussions. The event begins at 3 p.m. in Blaustein Humanities Center. All panel discussions are free and open to the public.
The Holleran Center for Community Action and Public Policy is a multidisciplinary academic center that unites intellectual inquiry with meaningful social, political and civic action in local and global communities. The Center fosters active citizenship and community leadership through scholarship, community partnerships and community-based research. Its emphasis on teaching and learning is directed toward fostering greater understanding about the complexities of contemporary societies.
The PICA program deepens students’ knowledge and skills as active and responsive citizens. Students integrate classroom studies in the liberal arts with experiential learning and research in local and global communities. PICA students work with members of those communities to address challenges and implement effective strategies for change.
Schedule for the panel discussions taking place in the Blaustein Humanities Center:
3-4:15 p.m. Panel Session One (panelists are listed in order of presentation)
Empowerment of the Self through Community Students: Sarah Rosadini, Shameesha Pryor, Molly Rosen and Georbina DaRosa Moderator: Professor Shani Collins, Dance Location: Ernst Common Room, Blaustein Humanities Center
Looking Back to Move Forward: Bureaucracy, Law Enforcement, and Dilemmas of Dissent Students: Eilis Klein, Shatrunjay Mall and Heidi Muñoz Moderator: Professor Lisa Wilson, American Studies Location: Hood Dining Room, Blaustein Humanities Center
Health: Awareness, Accessibility, and Interventions Students: Gianna Rocchio, Kiersten Anderson, and Ashley Bjorkman Moderator: Professor Audrey Zakriski, Psychology Location: Room 210, Blaustein Humanities Center
4:15 p.m. Coffee and Refreshments Faculty Lounge, Blaustein Humanities Center
4:45-6 p.m. Panel Session Two (panelists are listed in order of presentation)
Navigating Failed Systems: Foster Care, Pharmaceutical Pricing, and Affordable Housing Students: Cassie Walter, Claire Prihoda and Madeline McHale Moderator: Diana Whitelaw, Retired Holleran Center Associate Director Location: Ernst Common Room, Blaustein Humanities Center
The Untaught Curriculum Students: Ellen Babbott, Melinda Messeck, Bridget Horan and Morgan Rentko Moderator: Professor Lauren Anderson, Education Location: Hood Dining Room, Blaustein Humanities Center
Whose Body Is It Anyway?: An Exploration of Reproductive Health and Justice Students: Elizabeth Kenah, Sarah Treaster, Emma Anderson and Annie DiLisio Moderator: Professor Andrea Baldwin, Gender & Women’s Studies and Africana Studies Location: Room 210, Blaustein Humanities Center