University of Michigan names Santa Ono’s 15th president

Santa J. Ono will serve as the 15th president of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor beginning Oct. 13. // Courtesy of the University of Michigan

Santa J. Ono, biomedical researcher and president and vice-chancellor of the University of British Columbia (UBC), was appointed on 15e president of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor (UM), and will officially take office on October 13.

The UM board voted unanimously to appoint Ono at a special meeting July 13 in Ann Arbor. Ono previously served as president of the University of Cincinnati and vice provost and deputy provost at Emory University.

“On behalf of all of us seated here and the entire University of Michigan community here and around the world, I would like to extend a warm welcome to Dr. Santa Ono and his wife, Wendy, who joined today,” says Paul Brown, Chairman of the Board of Regents

“We look forward to meeting your daughters Sarah and Juliana, and your son-in-law David, very soon. We are delighted and honored to have you here today and to welcome you all to the University of Michigan family. I know you will continue to help us serve the public good.

Ono, 59, is an experienced vision researcher whose pioneering work in experimental medicine focuses on the immune system and eye diseases. Her leadership track record at universities in the United States and Canada includes prioritizing sustainability efforts, strong advocacy for mental health issues, and an open communication style.

He has also focused on the accessibility and affordability of higher education through services at organizations such as the Posse Foundation, the Urban Health Initiative leadership of the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities and the launch of new programs in the universities it has served. At UBC, he led substantial truth and reconciliation efforts for Indigenous and other groups.

Ono is the leader of the University Climate Change Coalition, a network that connects 23 of the world’s leading research universities and academic systems committed to accelerating climate action. Times Higher Education ranked UBC among the top seven universities in the world in its impact rankings in each of the past four years for taking urgent action to address climate change and its impacts.

Ono is also president of the U15 Group of Canadian Research Universities, a collective of research-intensive institutions like the Association of American Universities.

“The University of Michigan is recognized worldwide as the pinnacle of public higher education,” Ono says. “It is a singular honor to have been chosen to lead such an extraordinary institution.

“I look forward to embracing the university community and supporting its education, scholarship, innovation and service. And I look forward to joining Michigan’s 600,000 alumni in cheering on the Wolverines.

Ono, who is of Japanese descent, is the first Asian American to lead UM. He was born in Vancouver, raised in Pennsylvania and Maryland, earned a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from the University of Chicago and a doctorate in experimental medicine from McGill University in Montreal.

He has taught at Johns Hopkins University, Harvard University and University College London. While at the University of Cincinnati, he also served as a professor of pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

Ono’s appointment follows an extensive search that began in February. A Presidential Search Committee comprised of students, faculty, staff, alumni, and regents worked with executive search firm Isaacson, Miller to identify and vet candidates.

The committee held seven public listening sessions earlier this year to gather feedback from community members on their hopes and expectations for a new president. An online survey collected additional thoughts from more than 1,000 respondents.

“Several clear and consistent themes emerged in terms of what our community wanted from a new leader,” said Regent Denise Ilitch, who along with Regent Sarah Hubbard co-chaired the search committee to select the new president. . “Someone who could build trust, lead with integrity, and actively engage all of Michigan’s constituencies. Someone who had strong emotional intelligence and communication and listening skills.

“After getting to know Dr. Ono and learning about his experiences as a university administrator, it is clear to me that he is the right person to lead the University of Michigan at this time.

Ono’s five-year term as president will begin on October 13. He succeeds Mary Sue Coleman, who has served on an interim basis since the board fired former chair Mark Schlissel on Jan. 15. She will continue in this role until Ono starts. Coleman led the university as its 13th president from 2002 to 2014.

Ono will receive a base salary of $975,000, subject to annual increases at the discretion of the Board of Directors, and $350,000 in deferred compensation beginning in the first year. He will also receive regular university benefits and additional contributions to a pension plan, accommodation in the president’s house, an expense allowance, and the use of an automobile and driver, all in accordance with university policies.

“In every sphere of human endeavor, you’ll find Michigan graduates among the leaders and the best,” Ono says. “I look forward to meeting alumni from around the world, as I consider them an integral part of the university community; part of our family.

The University of Michigan was founded in Detroit in 1817 and began establishing its main campus in Ann Arbor in the 1840s.

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