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.
The Connecticut College Art Department presents Kent Monkman: “A Story of Resilience,” a solo exhibition on display in Cummings Arts Center Galleries from Oct. 23 through Dec. 8. An extension of Monkman’s current touring exhibition “Shame and Prejudice: A Story of Resilience," the show includes drawings, prints, video, and a figurative sculptural installation made specifically for this exhibition.
The new sculpture, “Minimalism,” confronts the disproportional incarceration of indigenous peoples, and suggests iconic minimalist sculptures that make up part of a prison cell.
Kent Monkman is a Canadian artist of Cree ancestry who works with a variety of mediums, including painting, film/video, performance, and installation. The exhibition and Monkman’s visit are made possible by the College's Dayton Artist-in-Residence Program, with substantial support and co-sponsorship from the Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity (CCSRE). CCSRE is the hub for researching and teaching race and ethnicity across the disciplines. The Dayton Artist in Residence Program enables students to encounter and learn from artists and performers who are not typically accessible in an academic setting, giving them the opportunity to explore a wider variety of artistic approaches and techniques. The Monkman exhibition is the second major initiative in a year-long collaboration between the Art Department and CCSRE around the theme of “Intersections."
Monkman has had solo exhibitions at numerous Canadian museums, including the Montreal Museum of Fine Art, the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art in Toronto, the Winnipeg Art Gallery, and the Art Gallery of Hamilton. He has also participated in many international group exhibitions, including in England, The Netherlands, France, and the U.S. His work is represented in numerous public and private collections including the National Gallery of Canada, the Denver Art Museum, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Museum London, the Glenbow Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, the Mackenzie Art Gallery, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian and the Vancouver Art Gallery. He is represented by Pierre-François Ouellette art contemporain in Montreal and Toronto, Trepanier Baer Gallery in Calgary and Peters Projects in Santa Fe.
Monkman will be on campus to deliver a lecture on November 2, 2017, at 4:15 p.m. in Oliva Hall, followed by a reception in the Cummings gallery from 5:30-7p.m.