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.
Local tree walks, lessons on sustainability and invasives, among Arboretum fall programs
The Connecticut College Arboretum offers another full list of programs this fall for all ages including tours, walks, classes and workshops with special appeal for naturalists, artists, painters, gardeners, and crafters, and even a visit to a local farm for a lesson on sustainability.
All programs are open to the public, and many are free, or available at a discounted rate with a membership to the Arboretum. (All programs are free for Connecticut College students.)
Saturday, Sept. 9 Arboretum Program: WILD ONES: Exploring Native Wood, Wetland and Meadow Communities With Maggie Jones, botanist and Executive Director, Denison Pequotsepos/Coogan Farm Nature & Heritage Center Meet at Coogan Farm, 162 Greenmanville Ave, Mystic. 2 to 4 p.m. Free, no registration required. Take a hike through the interconnected greenway that includes the Nature Center, Denison Homestead and Avalonia Land Conservancy lands. We will observe a variety of habitats, the key native plants that define each community as well as more unusual species. In addition, Maggie will discuss the management practices being used to preserve and restore certain areas. Mild terrain at a slow/moderate pace. Wear sturdy walking shoes or hiking boots and bring a water bottle. Don’t forget a hat and insect repellent.
Sunday, Sept. 10 Free Arboretum Guided Tour: Caroline Black Garden Meet at the entrance of Olin Science Center. 10 a.m.- 11:30 a.m.
Saturday, Sept. 16 Arboretum Program: Hodges Square Neighborhood Tree Walk This tour will explore the diverse collection of trees in Riverside Park and the Hodges Square neighborhood. The tour concludes at the 7th annual Down by the Riverside Festival featuring live music, children’s activities and a picnic lunch. 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Free, no registration required. Meet at Riverside Park, park at Winthrop Elementary School, 74 Grove St. New London. Co-sponsors: Riverside Park Conservancy and Hodges Square Village Association
Thursday, Sept. 21 Arboretum Program: Alewife Cove Nature Walk Louise Fabrykiewicz, Tour Leader 5:15 to 6:30 p.m. Meet at west end of Ocean Beach Park at the Garden Gateway. Free, no registration required. Come enjoy a panoramic view of the Long Island Sound and observe several coastal habitats including a tidal creek, salt marsh, estuary, dunes and sandy shores. Learn about many native plants that provide food and shelter for birds and other inhabitants of the coastal ecosystem. Co-sponsor: Save Ocean Beach
Wednesday, Sept. 27 Arboretum Program: Painting the Landscape Julie Riggs, Florence Griswold Museum Art Educator 4 to 6 p.m. Use Williams Street entrance to the Arboretum, meet at the Outdoor Theater/Buck Lodge. $20 ($15 members); registration required. Capture the beauty of the Arboretum with plein-air painting. This outdoor workshop begins with an introductory lesson about the tools and techniques of the American Impressionist painters. Students then paint a landscape using authentic artist’s materials (acrylic paints, palette, brushes, canvas board, and smock) down by the Arboretum Pond. Each participant will leave with a completed landscape painting. For artists of all levels and students of all ages. All supplies included.
Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017 Guided Tour: Native Plant Collection Meet at entrance of Olin Science Center Free. 10 a.m.- 11:30 a.m.
Sunday, Oct. 1 Invasive Plants Talk and Walk Leigh Knuttel, Arboretum Horticulturalist 2 to 4 p.m. Meet at 33 Gallows Lane. Free; registration required Invasive plants have replaced native species in many different habitats in Connecticut. When native plants are displaced, the diversity of native birds, insects, animals and plants may be decreased and ecosystem functions may be affected. Learn to identify the most common invasive plants and techniques to eradicate or control them.
Friday, Oct. 6 Williams Park Tree Walk Maggie Redfern, Arboretum Assistant Director 5 to 6 p.m. Meet at the corner of Broad and Williams Streets, New London. Free; no registration required Visit the oldest park in the city, established in 1858 Co-sponsors: New London Parks Conservancy and New London Field of Greens Market
Saturday, Oct. 7 Tree Identification Workshop Jim Luce, Campus Grounds Supervisor 10 a.m. to noon Meet at New London Hall, Botany Lab room 112 $10 (members free), registration required Have you ever wondered which kind of birch, oak or maple is growing in your backyard? Join Jim Luce for a workshop that will provide you with the means to identify most of the trees you’ll find in Southern New England. The first half hour will be in the classroom, the rest outdoors. Bring a copy of Harlow’s Tree ID book or purchase one ($10) during registration and pick up at class.
Sunday, Oct. 8 Guided Tour: Caroline Black Garden 10 a.m.- 11:30 a.m. Meet at entrance of Olin Science Center Free.
Saturday, Oct. 14 WILD ONES: Tour of Sustainability in a Small Farm Operation With Tom Kalal, Cranberry Meadow Farm farmer 11 a.m. Meet at 80 Grassy Hill Road, East Lyme Free; registration required, space is limited. Please call 860-439-5020 to reserve your spot. Cranberry Meadow Farm operates on 26 acres owned and 20 acres of their neighbor's land. They produce all their own vegetables, as well as humanely raise oxen, beef cattle, pigs, honey, chicken, eggs and forage quality hay for the herd. They practice sustainable agriculture, protecting our water, environment, and our soils. A potluck lunch will take place after the tour; bring your own chair and something to share.
Wednesday, Oct. 18 David Smalley Sculpture Tour With Barbara Zabel, Professor Emeritus of Art History and David Smalley Memorial Exhibition guest curator 5 to 6:30 p.m. Meet at the Ad Astra Garden at the north side of Tempel Green. Free; no registration required Join Barbara Zabel for a tour of David Smalley sculptures exhibited on the campus landscape of Connecticut College and the grounds of the Lyman Allyn Art Museum. Several of David's colleagues will add their thoughts about the sculptures and their work with David. Artist and New London native David Smalley (1940-2015), pioneered the use of computer technology as a tool for creating sculpture, and founded the Center for Arts and Technology at Connecticut College, where he taught studio art for more than three decades. Download the free self-guided sculpture trail tour from Camel Tours with this link http://cameltours.org/ct/u20/t41/.
Saturday, Oct. 21 Collecting Seeds for Propagation With Maggie Redfern, Arboretum Assistant Director 9 a.m. to noon Meet in New London Hall, Botany Lab room 112. $25 ($15 members); registration required There’s nothing more satisfying to a gardener than growing plants from seed. From wildflowers and perennials to trees and shrubs, success can be achieved if you understand what and when to collect to make it happen. Following a lecture in the classroom, we will collect seeds from the Arboretum grounds. Bring hand pruners if you have them. You will leave class with numerous seeds to care for.
Sunday, Oct. 22 All about Autumn Color Tour Glenn Dreyer, Arboretum Director 10 to 11:30 a.m. Meet in front of the Olin Science Center. Free; no registration required New England is one of the best places in the world to enjoy the annual color that happens before our deciduous forests drop their leaves for winter. This walk across campus and through the Native Plant Collection, will highlight some of the most reliable species for adding fall color to your garden and review the processes that lead to the brilliant reds, yellows, oranges and purples.
Sunday, Oct. 29 Mamacoke Mysteries Revealed Beverly Chomiak, Senior Lecturer in Geology and Environmental Studies 10 a.m. to noon Meet and park at the east end of Benham Avenue (Waterford) just before the railroad tracks. $10 (free members); registration required Through the study of geology, we come to understand how the earth came to be. Participants will climb the island, from sand flats to rock-strewn summit, and learn the origins of Mamacoke’s long and complex history. This will be a rugged walk; participants should dress in long pants and wear appropriate shoes.
Friday, Nov. 3 Just for Kids: “If I Were an Oak Tree” Caroline Driscoll, Volunteer 4 to 5 p.m. Meet at Arboretum entrance on Williams Street. Free; no registration required Did you ever think about how different your life would be if you couldn’t move from place to place? For this hour, kids will imagine what it is like to be a majestic white oak tree. Through games, crafts and fun, kids will learn about trees. Ages 4-10, accompanied by an adult.
Friday, Nov. 3 Full Moon Walk 7 to 8 p.m. With Maggie Redfern, Assistant Director Meet at Arboretum entrance on Williams Street. Free; no registration required Experience the Arboretum in a new light, under the Beaver Moon. This night tour will explore best spots for viewing the moon on campus and in the Native Plant Collection. Star gaze as you take in the sights and sounds. Bring your family, your favorite person to watch the moon with and a flashlight.
Sunday, Nov. 5 Guided Tour: Native Plant Collection 10 a.m.- 11:30 a.m. Meet at entrance of Olin Science Center Free
Saturday, Nov. 11 SALT Conference: A Down to Earth Look at Soils 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Meet at Blaustein Humanities Center. $65 before Nov. 1/$80 after ($55 before Nov. 1/$70 after Members); registration required
Sunday, Nov. 12 Guided Tour: Caroline Black Garden 10 a.m.- 11:30 a.m. Meet at entrance of Olin Science Center Free
Saturday, Dec. 2 Holiday Wreath Making Workshop 9 a.m. to noon With Leigh Knuttel, Horticulturalist and Mary Villa, Curator Meet at 33 Gallows Lane. $40; ($30 members); registration required This festive Arboretum event takes place every year during the holiday season. After a brief demonstration, participants will begin practicing the craft of wreath-making. Each participant will go home with an extraordinary wreath for holiday decorating. Bring hand pruners and any other embellishments you wish to incorporate. Everything else will be provided. Space is limited, register early.