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.
Jarrett Krosoczka’s “Hey, Kiddo” chosen for 2019’s One Book One Region
Jarrett Krozoczka's "Hey, Kiddo" is this year's read for One Book One Region. The graphic novel will be formally introduced on June 19 at the BioCT Innovation Common in Groton at 6 p.m., featuring a presentation on the book's themes by Ginny Anderson, assistant professor of theater at Connecticut College, and food provided by Brigaid. Jarrett Krosoczka will give a guest lecture on Sept. 17 at 7 p.m. in Connecticut College’s Palmer Auditorium.
A National Book Award Finalist, “Hey, Kiddo” is a memoir about growing up in a family grappling with addiction. Raised by his grandparents, who adopted him because his mother was suffering from addiction, Krosoczka didn’t know his father’s name until he saw his birth certificate when registering for a school ski trip. “Hey, Kiddo” traces Krosoczka’s search for his father, his difficult interactions with his mother and his path to becoming an artist.
“The subject matter is deeply relevant for many people,” said Jefferson Singer, Dean of the College and Faulk Foundation Professor of Psychology. “Nearly half of U.S. adults have a close friend or family member who has been addicted to drugs. We believe this book will spark meaningful and important dialogue within the southeastern Connecticut community.”
Krosoczka is a New York Times bestselling author who creates books with humor, heart, and a deep respect for his young readers, qualities that have made his titles perennial favorites on the bookshelves of homes, libraries, and bookstores. Titles include several picture books, his wildly popular Lunch Lady graphic novels, and the Platypus Police Squad middle-grade novels. He also recently launched a new story arc in the Jedi Academy series with Star Wars™: Jedi Academy: A New Class. Krosoczka has given two TED Talks, both of which have been curated to the main page of TED.com and have collectively accrued more than two million views online. He lives in western Massachusetts with his wife and children.
One Book One Region of Eastern Connecticut is now in its 17th year. This is the fourth year that Connecticut College has partnered with this initiative to bring community members and the college community together to discuss ideas, broaden appreciation of reading and break down barriers among people. In addition to this year's selection of “Hey, Kiddo,” previous summer read selections were “Exit West” by Mohsin Hamid and “Homegoing” by Yaa Gyasi.
One Book, One Region is made possible through a grant awarded to Connecticut College by Connecticut Humanities, a non-profit affiliate of the National Endowment of the Humanities. Other partners include Connecticut College’s Office of the President, Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut, Libraries of Eastern CT and the Frank Palmer Loomis Fund, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee. Bank Square Books arranged for the purchase of “Hey, Kiddo” for the Class of 2023 and their advisers.