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.
Variety, originality in theater as majors present their senior capstone projects April 27-30
Variety and originality are highlighted in a collective opportunity for senior theater majors to finish their college careers with a major research/creative project, as the Department of Theater presents it Fourth Annual Theater Capstone Festival the weekend of Friday, April 27 through Sunday, April 30. All performances, which are free and open to the public, will take place in Tansill Theater.
According to David Jaffe, professor of theater and chair of the theater department, the students are invited to take risks, to deepen their work, and to find their theatrical voices as actors, designers, directors, scholars, writers, or beyond with their capstone projects.
Here are the performance dates and times and short descriptions provided by the students themselves:
‘Eurydice’ by Sarah Ruhl A capstone in directing by Lana Richards A capstone in acting by Emily Ultan Thursday, April 27, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 29, 1 p.m.
What is the lifespan of love? In Eurydice, Sarah Ruhl’s play based on the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, we explore this question. Newlyweds Orpheus and Eurydice are faced with an unforeseeable test when Eurydice suddenly falls to her death. Caught between the world of the living and the world of the dead, the characters must rediscover what it means to love someone, what they are willing to sacrifice for love, and whose love they truly need.
Deva A capstone solo performance Created and performed by Eva Murray Saturday, April 29, 5:45 p.m. Sunday, April 30, 3:30 p.m.
Ever wonder what Tinkerbell would say if she could talk? More importantly, ever wonder why she can’t talk? Sparkles and tears collide in this solo performance based on real events of trauma, anxiety, reform, growth, and healing. Deva and her team invite you to join in this process of awareness, reflection, and discovery through music, movement, and lots and lots of glitter.
Sprinting In Heels A capstone solo performance Created and performed by Brenna McClain Friday, April 28, 7:30 p.m. Sunday, April 30, 1 p.m.
What do Hillary Clinton, Tyra Banks and Helen of Troy all have in common? They’re competing in a beauty pageant. In a world of hot pink tulle and ambition, makeup setting spray and patriarchal rage, Instagrams and depression, the Beauty Pageant of Life demands more than just a pretty face. Sprinting In Heels explores the fun and the pain women experience in the ruthless fight to find success and happiness.
Happy Ugly Comedic A capstone solo performance Created and performed by Ashley Giordano Friday, April 28, 8:45 p.m. Sunday, April 30, 2:15 p.m.
What is love really? Is it a game? Is it a battlefield? Go for a walk down memory lane with Ashley as she revisits past relationships. Anything could happen and probably will, like: self discoveries, dancing, a music montage, poetry, hopeful beginnings and heartbreaking ends. We will find the happy, the ugly and the comedic in every situation and maybe, just maybe, Ashley will live happily ever after.
All the World’s a Stage Run by Children A presentation by Natalie Boles, based on her research Saturday, April 29, 5 p.m.
This talk was developed from research done on the Theater for Young Audience community and a discovered lack of certain types of subject matter and audience bases. Theater should be seen as a tool for activism and a space that gives children somewhere to learn and make a difference with the ideas they take away. Through an examination of TYA practices and material over time, the talk narrows in on a theater company called Fringe Benefits, whose work exemplifies the bold type of TYA theater that can be put on and exposed to children. Tolerance is key, and differences are accepted and encouraged.