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.
onStage presents Pickup Performance Co(s) at Connecticut College
Connecticut College's onStage Guest Artist Series resumes in the spring semester with "Radicals in Miniature" by the Pickup Performance Co(s) at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 15, and Saturday, Feb. 16, in Tansill Theater.
New York City native and Obie Award-winning playwright Ain Gordon teams up with percussionist Josh Quillen to recount seminal but forgotten figures he met while coming of age in the city's audacious artistic and gay fringe culture of the 1970s and 80s. Together, Gordon and Quillen poetically explore the influence of these characters, who endured the AIDS crisis of the 1980s, and propelled "alternative" culture forward, including: punk drummer David Hahn, dance reveler Elaine Shipman, club performer John Sex and disco artist Sylvester.
"This production spurs the audience to recall individuals that were influential in their own lives, but almost forgotten," said Rob Richter, director of arts programming at Connecticut College. "It also highlights the impact of the digital age, as many cultural influencers of the past are not included in today’s digital historical record. This performance will remind us of their contributions and bring them front and center."
Founded in 1971 and incorporated in 1978 as Pick Up Performance Co., Inc., to facilitate projects by David Gordon, the company was expanded in 1992 to include projects by Ain Gordon. It was renamed Pick Up Performance Co(s) in recognition of the dual father/son leadership with independent projects by each artist. PUPCos continues to be artist-led with multi-generational New York City roots supporting the wide-roaming interests of both artists in dance, theater, media, social practice and the fusing of disciplines.
Tickets for the performance are $22 general admission, $20 for seniors, $11 for students and are available online or by calling the box office at 860-439-2787.