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.
New craft and floral workshops join popular Arboretum programs for Spring 2017
Nature Printmaking, Grapevine Crafts and Orchids for Beginners are three new programs being offered by the Connecticut College Arboretum this spring, joining popular, perennial programs like maple syrup-making and pruning workshops, and full moon, winter waterfowl and winter tree ID walks.
All programs are open to the public, and many are free or available at a discounted rate with a membership to the Arboretum. Registration is required for all programs. All programs are free for Connecticut College students.
Saturday, Jan. 28 Winter Waterfowl 9 to 11 a.m. With Robert Askins, Katharine Blunt Professor of Biology Meet and park at the east end of Benham Avenue (Waterford) just before the railroad tracks. $10 (Free for members) The section of the Thames River from Mamacoke Island to Smith Cove is one of the best spots in eastern Connecticut to see wintering waterfowl. The site includes three coves and two salt ponds that provide important habitat for a variety of ducks that spend the winter in Connecticut. Consequently this site, which is a natural area within the Connecticut College Arboretum, has been designated as an Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society. During winter, the coves support several waterfowl species plus Bald Eagles, Pied-billed Grebes and American Coots. Dress for the weather. Scopes will be provided.
Saturday, Feb. 18 Tap into Maple Syrup Production 10 a.m. to noon Jim Luce, Supervisor of Grounds Meet in Olin Science Center Lounge. $10 (Free for members) Enjoy time outdoors making one of nature’s sweet treats. Maple syrup starts to run in late winter when temperatures climb above freezing during the day and drop back below freezing at night. Participants will learn how to identify different species of maple trees, install a spile and safely produce syrup, and tastings are included!
Tuesday, March 7 Experience Essential Oils 5 to 6:30 p.m. Jennifer Pagach, Associate Director of the Goodwin-Niering Center Meet in Olin Science Center, room 113. $10 (Free for members) Nature has many gifts, and essential oils are an easy and enjoyable way to access the calming and healing power of plants, especially when indoors. This sensory workshop will teach you about the many benefits of essential oils, how they are grown and extracted, and how to use them. Learn how the right botanical oils can support and improve your general wellbeing.
Saturday, March 11 Winter Tree ID 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mary Villa, Arboretum Curator Meet in Olin Science Center Lounge. Free. It is fairly easy to identify many trees by their leaves but once the leaves have fallen, it can be challenging. This workshop starts indoors with a brief introduction to plant identification using keys. Then we will head outside to look at deciduous, native trees while they are dormant. Observing trees as a whole, with their unique bark and branching patterns, twigs, buds, any leftover fruit and persistent leaves, helps them become recognizable – even during the winter.
Wednesday, March 15 Basket Making 3 to 6 p.m. Manuel Lizarralde, Professor of Botany and Environmental Science Meet in New London Hall, Room 222. $25; $15 members Basket making is an important tradition in the heritage of American Indians. In this workshop, participants will make a basket of traditional design using rattan reeds. Space is limited, register early.
Saturday, April 1 The Art and Science of Pruning 10 a.m. to noon Jim Luce, Supervisor of Grounds Meet in New London Hall, Classroom 101. $10 (Free for members) Trees and shrubs thrive with judicious pruning. This workshop will cover what, when, how and why to prune. Topics covered will include training young trees and shrubs to avoid future problems, renovating overgrown shrubs and pruning hedges. After a brief lecture inside, participants will go outside to view pruning demonstrations on campus plantings.
Sunday, April 2 Grapevine Craft Workshop 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Maggie Redfern, Arboretum Assistant Director, and Leigh Knuttel, Horticulturalist Please register to learn of the meeting location. $10 (Free for members) After a brief outdoor harvest of dormant winter grapevines, participants will make a unique wreath or rustic basket to take home. You’ll learn which vines to use (and which not) and leave with an easy spring project you can enjoy for years to come. Bring hand pruners and gloves.
Wednesday, April 5 Growing Plants from Seed 6:30 to 9 p.m. Maggie Redfern, Arboretum Assistant Director and Leigh Knuttel, Horticulturalist Meet in New London Hall, Botany Lab, Room 112. $25; $15 members. From annuals and perennials to trees and shrubs, success can be achieved if you understand what triggers germination and the growing process. This workshop is for beginners and those who have been frustrated in past attempts to transform seed to seedling. Students will leave class with a selection of potted seeds.
Monday, April 10 Full Moon Walk 8 to 9 p.m. Maggie Redfern, Arboretum Assistant Director Meet at Arboretum entrance on Williams Street. Free. Experience the Arboretum in a new light, under the full moon. This tour will explore the Campus and Native Plant Collection. Star gaze as you take in the sights and sounds. Bring your favorite person to watch the moon with and a flashlight.
Wednesday, April 12 Orchids for Beginners 7 to 9 p.m. Lydia Pan, Arboretum Volunteer, and Leigh Knuttel, Horticulturalist Meet in New London Hall, Botany Lab, Room 112. $10; $5 members Growing orchids in your home can be easy and rewarding with their long-lasting flowers. Participants will learn about their light and water requirements, tour the Connecticut College Greenhouse orchid collection, and take part in a repotting demo. Registrants are invited to bring in their own plants to learn how to repot or diagnose plant problems.
Saturday, April 22 Mamacoke Mysteries Revealed 10 a.m. to noon Beverly Chomiak, Senior Lecturer in Geology and ES Meet and park at the east end of Benham Avenue (Waterford) just before the railroad tracks. $10 (Free for members) Through the study of geology, we come to understand how the earth came to be. On this brisk hike, Beverly will uncover Mamacoke Island’s long and complex history. Participants will climb the island, from sand flats to rock-strewn summit, and learn the origins of many remarkable features. This will be a rugged walk; participants should dress in long pants and wear appropriate shoes.
Wednesday, April 26 Nature Printmaking 4 to 6 p.m. Julie Garvin Riggs, Florence Griswold Museum Art Educator Use Williams Street entrance to the Arboretum, meet at Buck Lodge. $20 ($15 members) Using pencils and printmaking foam, we will sketch a landscape in relief which will then be covered in printing paint and rolled out onto cardstock to create a beautiful mirror image. Prints resemble wood block carving prints. Each student will be able to make multiple prints on many colors of cardstock.
Friday, April 28 Photo Contest Reception on Arbor Day 4 to 5 p.m. Meet in Unity House. Free. Prizes for the Annual Photo Contest will be announced, light refreshments served. Exhibition on view through May 24. Contest details will be posted online.
Friday, May 5 Annual Wildflower Walk Noon to 1 p.m. Glenn Dreyer, Arboretum Director Use Williams Street entrance to the Arboretum; meet at the Outdoor Theater. Free On a slope just south of the Laurel Walk lies the Edgerton and Stengel Wildflower Garden, containing over 75 species of wildflowers. Some of the flowers you can expect to see include: Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Virginia Bluebells, Wild Geranium, Solomon’s Seal and Trillium. Bring a picnic lunch to eat by the pond, and then enjoy a 45-minute walk in the Wildflower Garden.
Friday, May 5 Just for Kids: Wildflower Walk 4 to 5 p.m. Caroline Driscoll, Arboretum Volunteer Meet at Arboretum entrance on Williams Street. Free. Through interactive play, children will learn the identity of several types of wildflowers. They will then test their newly acquired skills on a walk in the Wildflower Garden to find the real living flowers. Appropriate for ages 4 to 10, accompanied by an adult.
Sunday, May 7 Bonsai Workshop 2 to 5 p.m. Todd Hansen, Sanctuary Bonsai, East Hartford, CT Meet in New London Hall, Botany Lab Room 112 $45 ($35 members) This program will demystify the ancient horticultural art form of bonsai. Following a lecture and demonstration, participants will begin working on a small plant to start on its path towards being a bonsai. With a focus on care and maintenance learn all the basics of bonsai design.
Saturday, May 20 New London Tree Walk from A to Z 10:30 to noon Maggie Redfern, Assistant Director Meet at the Public Library of New London Community Room, 63 Huntington Street. Free. Within downtown New London there’s everything from Acer to Zelkova. Urban trees provide a range of benefits from environmental to social. Learn to identify some of the more common and most unusual specimens on the downtown streets and parks. This tour is for anyone interested in nature in the city.