September 21, 2023
Dear Members of the Connecticut College Community,
Today is my 77th day as interim president at Connecticut College, so I want to take a moment and reflect on what I’ve learned so far about this special place and its people.
I’ve come to better understand Conn’s culture, incredible faculty and staff and amazing students. Having worked at six other campuses with distinctive reputations, I’ve learned that Conn is like no other. The teaching and learning here are exceptional. I am learning a lot and hope I am contributing to the mission, vision and culture of the College.
I will soon share with the Conn community a list of processes that I have identified as priorities, ranging from shared governance and community building to budgeting and capital projects. My process improvement document – aka goals – will provide many opportunities for us to work together to improve the College in so many ways.
But these first 77 days have already shown me a potential path to experience more fully what goes on here and what needs to happen to set the stage for the College’s 12th president. And each day I ask myself: Am I on track or not? Don’t be afraid to tell me.
As I reflect back on this initial period, here is what stands out for me:
- I’m learning new things. Thought I knew how field hockey is played. Saw my first game and it was an eye-opener. Very exciting.
- Talked to one of the goalies on our women’s ice hockey team and look forward to seeing them play.
- Also look forward to seeing our rowing team and figuring out how they score. Please, let’s beat the Coast Guard Academy!
- So, a lot of new sports for me – for example, how are sailing races managed? -- and I’m a big fan of our other teams whose sports I’m more familiar with.
- Thoroughly enjoying meeting a number of student clubs. Felt so at home with Posse. I’m scheduled to attend many other student activities. Our student talent is amazing.
- Spending a lot of time building relationships with my direct reports and their teams. I’m blessed to have such good people around me. What good teachers they are. They even tolerate, if not share, my sense of humor.
- I’ve been taking walks in the Arboretum next to the president’s house. What a backyard bounty -- it’s spoiling me.
- Also working hard with Facilities to address some critical deferred maintenance issues across campus. If you know of anyone who would donate use of a back hoe, I’ll go get it.
- I’m observing the dedication of our staff who do so much. I’ve enjoyed meeting them -- what a crew.
- The honesty and integrity of Conn’s people are helping me to uncover things that need to be done and plans that need to be developed. This occupies much of my thinking and my work with people around me.
- I liked the summer months of solitude for reading, thinking and focusing on Conn’s future, one so bright the possibility of being brighter intrigues me. I’m much more aware of my need to focus, be patient and support others. Time is going by quickly and I want to feel confident I’m making a difference.
- As I move into a new phase of my interim presidency, I hope to create movement and action from the many recommendations that have come to me from all quarters of the College. Learning never stops. I believe that is a key mantra of our Conn culture.
- I like the idea of writing a monthly president’s message to the Conn community. In future messages, I’ll be less of a tourist and more of a Conn citizen who tracks the progress of our many efforts to better this wonderful campus.
- Until next month…
Les Wong, Ph.D.