October 25, 2022
By Anna Fifelski
Welcome back to The University Insider.
This week, The Michigan Daily interviewed University President Santa Ono, the Board of Regents discussed a Flint Transformation Plan, the University continued the transition to an all-electric bus system and more.
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The Michigan Daily sat down with new University President Santa Ono on Tuesday afternoon for his first formal interview since officially taking office Oct. 13. Ono discussed his priorities for the administration, the University’s Climate Action Plan and his plans for engaging with student organizations on campus.
The Michigan Daily: From city council member to senator to university president, the beginning of a tenure of a public servant often sets the tone for the goals of the administration and the work yet to come. To help our university community understand what to expect from your administration, what are your priorities for your first 100 days as president of the University of Michigan?
Santa Ono: The most important thing is for me to meet with different parts of the institution; that’s why I am thrilled that we are meeting in the first several days of my time here. As you know, I have been on campus for about four or five days, and I am meeting with people in formal meetings, but I am also out and about. For example, I went to the Michigan Union recently, and I’ve also been to the Michigan League. I am also having meetings with all kinds of individuals around the entire institution, including going to Flint later this week for the regents meeting. It has been a whirlwind of activity, but it hasn’t just started in the past four or five days. It has been three months since the announcement. I have put in hundreds of hours of Zoom meetings and a couple of visits, and had a chance to meet leadership with the student government, but also the Faculty Senate and some of the unions. And so, to answer your question, the priorities are to first listen and then inform my priorities based upon what I learn from that.
The University of Michigan Board of Regents met at the Riverfront Conference Center on the University of Michigan-Flint campus for their October meeting Thursday afternoon. The meeting marked University President Santa Ono’s first Regents’ meeting in the role. The Board discussed the creation of a new central ethics, integrity and compliance office, the proposed transformation of the Flint campus and a new building for the College of Pharmacy.
Paul Brown (D), chair of the Board of Regents, commented on the Flint Transformation Plan, which was announced at the September meeting. The plan proposes a large investment in Flint’s campus to bolster enrollment.
“(Flint) wants (the transformation plan) to be successful, but no one wants this to be successful more than the Board of Regents,” Brown said.
In line with the President’s Commission on Carbon Neutrality (PCCN) recommendations, the University of Michigan’s Logistics, Transportation and Parking (LTP) office began moving toward an all-electric bus system in October 2021 by ordering four vehicles for the Ann Arbor campus. The commission aims to fully electrify the transit bus system by 2035.
William McAllister, general manager of transportation and waste management at the University, said the buses were purchased from bus manufacturer New Flyer and are scheduled to arrive on campus in the spring of 2023. According to McAllister, there are currently 56 buses in the University’s fleet — 29 of which are diesel hybrids, with the remaining 27 being clean diesel buses. The current diesel hybrid buses use diesel fuel for the internal combustion engine and an electric motor, consuming less energy and producing fewer emissions than the conventional all-diesel bus. The “clean diesel” New Flyer bus uses a blend of 20% biodiesel and standard diesel.
Jonathan Turcotte-Summers, a PhD student at the University of British Columbia — where University President Santa Ono spent six years before his tenure at the University of Michigan — wrote an Op-Ed about what he thinks faculty, staff and students at the University should know about Ono. The editorial includes information about Ono hosting a fundraiser with an alleged abuser of Indigenous children, failing to take appropriate action against a climate of sexual violence and more.
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