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In controversy, Connecticut College names interim president

Conn College staff at the faculty rally in support of students
Brian Scott-Smith
Conn College faculty rally in support of students in March 2023.

Connecticut College has named its an interim president, which immediately drew criticism from some of the school’s faculty over the choice.

The school announced on Thursday that Board of Trustees member Les Wong had been unanimously voted in by the board and will take over from outgoing President Katherine Bergeron, starting July 1.

A small group of faculty, who wish to remain anonymous to avoid retribution, told WSHU in a statement that they felt betrayed and sidelined by the Board of Trustees who appointed Wong with no involvement from the faculty.

The school used a search agency that is co-owned by another Board of Trustees member, which helped them make their decision on Wong. Karen Quint rescued herself from the appointment process, and is retiring the board on June 30 after completing her term as vice chair.

"Why did we go through a sham search, pay tens or hundreds of thousands to a search firm only to go with him?" said the group of faculty. "While faculty and staff salaries can’t even keep up with the cost of living, and many of our facilities remain inaccessible or in a state of disrepair, we apparently have enough money to squander on false searches like this one."

Wong previously was the president of San Francisco State University. He stepped down from that position after allegations of antisemitism on campus sparked a lawsuit. It was later dismissed by a federal court, and Wong also apologized to Jewish students over the situation.

The change of leadership at the college has come about after Bergeron was forced to cancel a college fundraiser at a Florida club that’s faced allegations of racism and antisemitism.

The school's former chief diversity officer resigned in protest, which prompted protests by students, staff, and faculty, as well as allegations of bullying-behavior by Bergeron.

An award-winning freelance reporter/host for WSHU, Brian lives in southeastern Connecticut and covers stories for WSHU across the Eastern side of the state.