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The Board of Regents held a special meeting on Wednesday to officially appoint Dr. Santa J. Ono as the 15th president of the University of Michigan. 

Ono, 59, will begin his initial five-year tenure on Oct. 13 and will succeed Interim President Mary Sue Coleman, who was appointed by the board in January following the abrupt firing of former President Mark Schlissel. Coleman will continue to serve as president until Ono’s term begins. Ono is the current president of the University of British Columbia and has previously served as the president of the University of Cincinnati and senior vice provost and vice provost at Emory University. 

Article VIII § 5 of the Michigan Constitution of 1963 states the board of the University shall hold responsibility for selecting a president to be the principal executive member of the institution and ex officio member of the board.

“I’m thrilled to join in this enthusiastic welcome for Dr. Santa Ono as president of the University of Michigan,” Coleman said. “From academics and research to health care, athletics and service to society, the University is dedicated to excellence. ‘Leaders and best’ is our way of life on all three campuses.”

According to a statement by the University on Wednesday, Ono’s appointment followed a nationwide search of potential candidates beginning in February, where the Presidential Search Committee hosted seven virtual listening sessions to hear community input on candidates. Regent Denise Ilitch (D) said in her statement at the meeting that the committee noticed integrity, communication and listening skills were among the main qualities community members were looking for in a leader. 

“It is readily apparent to me after getting to know Dr. Ono and learning about his experiences as a university administrator that he is the right person to lead the University of Michigan at this moment in time,” Ilitch said. “His vision for our future is exciting and we have a lot to look forward to. I’m telling you that it’s a happy damn day.”

Ono marks the first U-M president of Japanese descent and will receive a base salary of $975,000, which is subject to annual increases at the board’s discretion. Schlissel received a salary of $927,000 at the time of his termination. Ono is also entitled to deferred compensation of $350,000 and residence in the President’s House on South University Avenue.  

“I am honored to serve what I think is the greatest public university in the world,” Ono said. “The University of Michigan is known worldwide as an exceptional place for learning, teaching, healing and service across this great state, across this great nation and around the world, and I am humbled and honored to be named its 15th president.”

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