Regents appoint Santa Ono as new president of University of Michigan

Santa J. Ono, an accomplished biomedical researcher and president and vice-chancellor of the University of British Columbia, was named the 15th president of the University of Michigan.

The Board of Regents voted unanimously to nominate Ono at a special meeting on July 13 in Ann Arbor. Ono, who previously served as president of the University of Cincinnati and senior vice provost and assistant provost at Emory University, will officially step into the UM role on Oct. 13.

“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,” Paul W. Brown, chairman of the Board of Regents, said at the special meeting.

“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 that you will continue to help us serve the public good.

Santa J. Ono, president and vice-chancellor of the University of British Columbia, was named the 15th president of the University of Michigan. (Roger Hart, Michigan Photography)

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 launching of national programs in the universities where he served. At UBC, he led substantial truth and reconciliation efforts for Indigenous and other groups.

He 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. The Times Higher Education has 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.

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

“The University of Michigan is recognized around the world as the pinnacle of public higher education,” Ono said. “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 and 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.

President-elect Santa Ono, third from right, is pictured with Regents, left to right, Denise Ilitch, Ron Weiser, Mark Bernstein, Paul Brown, Sarah Hubbard and Jordan Acker.  (Roger Hart, Michigan Photography)
President-elect Santa Ono, third from right, is pictured with Regents, left to right, Denise Ilitch, Ron Weiser, Mark Bernstein, Paul Brown, Sarah Hubbard and Jordan Acker. (Roger Hart, Michigan Photography)

Ono is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, the National Academy of Inventors, USA, and the Johns Hopkins Society of Scholars. He is also a recipient of the Reginald Wilson Diversity Leadership Award from the American Council on Education. Earlier this year he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

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.

Under the Michigan Constitution, the board is responsible for electing the president of the university.

“We were listening. We heard you,” said Hubbard, thanking members of the UM community who shared their feedback during the research process. “I am confident that the finalist sitting before us today is the right choice. for the University of Michigan.”

UM President-elect Santa Ono shares a moment with President Mary Sue Coleman ahead of a special July 13 board meeting.  (Roger Hart, Michigan Photography)
UM President-elect Santa Ono shares a moment with President Mary Sue Coleman ahead of a special July 13 board meeting. (Roger Hart, Michigan Photography)

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, use of an automobile and a driver, all in accordance with university policies.

As president, Ono is responsible for the general supervision of the university’s teaching and research programs, as well as libraries, museums and other support services. Its duties also include overseeing the general welfare of faculty and staff, health and order among students, and the financial stability of the university.

The university’s main campus in Ann Arbor includes 19 schools and colleges. There are also regional campuses in Dearborn and Flint, and a nationally ranked health care system, Michigan Medicine. The university also has a world-renowned intercollegiate athletics program.

Special meeting of the Board of Regents followed shortly after by a press conference with Santa Ono.

As one of the nation’s top public universities, UM has been a leader in research, learning, and teaching for more than 200 years. With the highest research volume of any public university in the country, UM advances new solutions and knowledge in areas ranging from the COVID-19 pandemic to driverless vehicle technology, social justice and neutrality. carbon.

Its alumni body is one of the largest in the world and includes a US president, scientists, actors, astronauts and inventors.

“In every sphere of human endeavor, you will find Michigan graduates among the leaders and the best,” Ono said. “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.

Ono is married to Wendy Yip, who trained as an immunologist at McGill and a lawyer at Boston University. They have two daughters, Juliana and Sarah.

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