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.
"Unplugged," a new spoken word monologue by Guillermo Gomez Pena of La Pocha Nostra Feb. 27
Guillermo Gomez Pena, an award-winning Mexican poet, playwright and performance artist whose work explores cross-cultural issues and Mexican-U.S. relations through a mix of media, will perform "Unplugged," a spoken word monologue, on Feb. 27 at 4:30 p.m. in Palmer Auditorium. Open to the public, the free performance is presented by the Ammerman Center for Arts and Technology as part of its 2016-2017 Body and Technology Colloquia Series.
Gomez Pena's work explores post-human bodies shaped by the Mexican-American borderlands and the politics of otherness. His performance work and published works have contributed to the debates on cultural and gender diversity, border culture and US-Mexico relations. He will perform as El Mad Mex, one of his many artistic personas.
Spearheaded by its artistic director and performer Gomez Pena, La Pocha Nostra is a San Francisco-based performing arts company. La Pocha Nostra seeks to erase borders between art and politics, practice and theory, artist and spectator, creating performances that speak to the lives of Chicanos, Latinos, and marginalized people throughout the world. La Pocha Nostra performances are highly theatrical and explore techno-shamanism scenarios.
The La Pocha Nostra residency is co-sponsored by the Office of the President; Dean of the College; the Art, Dance, Theater, English and Gender and Women's Studies Departments; and the Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity (CCSRE).
"We are thrilled to bring Guillermo Gomez Pena to campus to engage with our community. His work, especially in today's political climate, will reveal controversial notions about culture, race, technology and sexuality as a form of radical democracy and citizenship. Gomez Pena will expose these important challenging issues through his embodied poetry and performance-pedagogy to Connecticut College and the larger community," said the Center's Associate Director of Events Nadav Assor, assistant professor of art.
In "Unplugged," Gomez Pena's latest solo work, "El border brujo" draws from his 30-year-old "living archive" and combines new and classic performance material to present a unique perspective on the immediate future of the Americas. His self-styled "imaginary activism" invokes performance art as a form of radical democracy and citizenship. Combining spoken word poetry, activist theory, radical storytelling and language experimentation, Gomez Pena offers critical and humorous commentary about the art world, academia, new technologies, the culture of war and violence in the US, organized crime in Mexico, gender and race politics, and the latest wave of complications surrounding gentrification in the "creative city."
The first Chicano/Mexicano artist to receive a MacArthur Fellowship, Gomez Pena is the author of ten books that include collections of essays, experimental poetry, and performance scripts.
About the Ammerman Center for Arts and Technology 2016-2017 Body and Technology Colloquia Series
By the late twentieth century, our time, a mythic time, we are all chimeras, theorized and fabricated hybrids of machine and organism; in short, we are cyborgs.
from "The Cyborg Manifesto", Donna J. Haraway, 1985
A good three decades after these seminal words were written by pioneering feminist scholar Donna Haraway, we live at a time in which technology and the body are more deeply intertwined than ever. The 2016-17 Ammerman Center Colloquia Series engages with this field through the work of a diverse cast of artists and performers, manifesting and reflecting on the current multiplicity of relationships between Technology and the Body, and the ways these can shape, enhance or control our lives. From post-human bodies shaped by the Mexican-American borderlands and the politics of otherness, to clone-bodies generated and shaped by science fiction and algorithmic excess, to a collective of singers and machines creating music in harmony with each other, this year's "Body and Technology" colloquia introduces a range of thought-provoking works with a truly multi-disciplinary approach.
The final colloquia event will be media artist Lee Blalock, Adjunct Associate Professor at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Blalock will give an artist talk on April 3, 2017, Olin 014 at 4:30 pm. Learn more at leeblalock.com.