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.
Six spring semester concerts offer musical variety
Before the College’s spring break commences in mid-March, the Music Department will offer six concerts with a variety of musical genres. All concerts are open to the public and are free to Connecticut College students, faculty and staff.
On Feb. 10, from 7:30-8:30 p.m. in the Harkness Chapel Main Sanctuary, “First Ladies of Music and Men They Inspire” will feature works by Clara and Robert Schumann, Fanny and Felix Mendelssohn, Alma and Gustav Mahler, Nadia Boulanger and her students Aaron Copland and Astor Piazzolla. Performers will include Adrian Sylveen, violin (Poland, USA); Brunilda Myftaraj, violin (Albania, USA); Audroné Kisielité, piano (Lithuania); Jurate Švedaite, soprano (Lithuania, USA). Tickets are $10 general admission and $5 for seniors and students.
On Tuesday, March 7, guest artist Fiete Felsch, a jazz musician from Germany, will perform and conduct a workshop about using jazz as a metaphor for human relationships, shared leadership, and communication. The concert is at 7 pm. In Fortune Hall in Cummings Arts Center and is free.
The following concerts all will take place in Evans Hall:
On Friday, Feb. 17, pianist Jordan Hillman '13 will be performing a concert of works by Beethoven, Gershwin, Schubert and Chopin from 7-8 p.m. The concert is free.
On Friday, Feb. 24 a faculty concert, an “All Faure Program,” takes place from 7-8 p.m., with Maksim Ivanov, baritone; Theodore Arm, violin; Christine Coyle, cello; and Kumi Ogano on piano performing. Tickets are $10 general admission and $5 for seniors and students.
On Sunday, Feb. 26, from 7:30-8:30 p.m., the department presents a jazz concert and faculty recital marking the 100th anniversary of the first jazz recording. John Clark, clarinet; Ian Frenkel, piano; and others will celebrate some of the early repertoire from jazz bands of the period and looking forward to music that developed immediately after. Tickets are $10 general admission and $5 for seniors and students.
On Monday, March 6, Gary Buttery will direct “A Music Sampler: Jazz Ensemble and Traditional Jazz Band,” taking place from 7-8 p.m. Tickets are $5 general admission and $3 for seniors and students.