Santa J. Ono, AB’84, was formally inaugurated March 7 as the president of the University of Michigan—becoming the latest University of Chicago alum to lead a higher education institution.
A scholar whose pioneering work in experimental medicine focuses on the immune system and eye disease, Ono is the first Asian American to lead Michigan. In his inaugural address, Ono discussed the challenges facing the world and higher education.
“Everywhere we look, we see a world in distress, with tensions rising and conflicts raging. Abroad, we face a fundamental challenge between democracies and autocracies, even as the bloody hands of tyrants are set against innocents aspiring to basic rights and dignities.
“At home, we see a challenge between pluralism and zealotry, between the shrill cry of political tribalism and partisanship, and the quiet call of civic engagement and citizenship. Even today we are wrestling with racism and inequity and injustice, and as heirs to the unfinished work of Martin Luther King Jr., we must not falter in that task.”
As part of the event, Ono welcomed Hanna Holborn Gray, who was UChicago president while he was an undergraduate student. He described Gray as “an outstanding scholar, an exceptional president and a truly inspiring model of leadership.”