Leslie E. Wong invested as 13th president of San Francisco State University
In inaugural address, President Wong challenges students and faculty to "own their own minds"
SAN FRANCISCO, March 14, 2013 -- Leslie E. Wong was invested today as San Francisco State University's 13th president, calling on students and faculty in his inaugural address to "own their own minds" and challenge the status quo in order to find new and creative solutions to the world's most vexing problems.
The investiture ceremony was attended by hundreds of members of the campus community as well as university presidents and other distinguished guests from California and beyond.
"Owning your own mind comes at a price and it requires significant effort, and I am not saying that students and professors should destroy the important conceptual frameworks that may very well be needed," President Wong said. "But we do need to nurture creativity, insight and self-direction. San Francisco State University is pretty good at this, and I believe that is why we are among the best universities on this planet."
The ceremony was the centerpiece of a week of activities that both highlighted the University's accomplishments and looked toward the future. It also marked a homecoming for President Wong, who grew up in East Oakland and attended Bishop O'Dowd High School, where he met his wife, Phyllis.
President Wong began his tenure at SF State on Aug. 1 following nine years as president of Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Mich.
Prior to the inaugural address, California State University Board of Trustees Chair A. Robert Linscheid and CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White presented President Wong with the presidential medallion, which symbolically represents his investment with the power and responsibility of the presidency.
"President Wong has a strong background in working collaboratively in a public university setting," White said. "He is also a strategic thinker and innovator who has the skills to help this University navigate the path ahead, one of great change, one of great opportunity and one of profound importance to our quality of life, our economic development and the social mobility of our people."
The investiture ceremony began with a procession of University faculty, deans and distinguished guests, followed by congratulatory remarks from students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends. They included Associated Students, Inc. President Adenike Hamilton, who noted President Wong's presence at student organization meetings and athletic and student life events.
"Our students are so fortunate to have an engaged leader like President Wong, who from the first day here has made it a point to reach out to students and to get to know the people that the University is here to serve," Hamilton said.
The keynote address was given by Douglas Roberts, director of the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research at Michigan State University and trustee emeritus at Northern Michigan University.
The ceremony also included performances from the Alexander String Quartet, SF State's longtime quartet in residence, and the student performers of the Holloway String Quartet. Student Christa Laosantos sang the national anthem. Professor of Latina/Latino Studies and San Francisco Poet Laureate Alejandro Murguia read a poem written for the investiture, and University of San Francisco President Rev. Steven A. Privett delivered the invocation.
In addition to SF State and Northern Michigan University, President Wong has served in administrative and academic roles at Valley City State University in Valley City, N.D., University of Southern Colorado in Pueblo, Colo., The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash. and Pierce College in Tacoma, Wash. He holds a bachelor's degree in psychology from Gonzaga University, a master's degree in experimental psychology from Eastern Washington University and a Ph.D. in educational psychology from Washington State University.
SF State is the only master's-level public university serving the counties of San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin. The University enrolls nearly 30,000 students each year and offers nationally acclaimed programs in a range of fields -- from creative writing, cinema and biology to history, broadcast and electronic communication arts, theatre arts and ethnic studies. The University’s more than 212,000 graduates have contributed to the economic, cultural and civic fabric of San Francisco and beyond.