March 23, 2023
I’d like to express my deep gratitude to all of you who joined in our inaugural festivities. I will always remember it as a day we came together to remember who we are – and what we aspire to be – a great public university.
To that end, I’d like to begin by congratulating Regent Ilitch for her recent appointment to the State of Michigan’s Investment Board. Governor Whitmer made an outstanding selection.
I’m also delighted to offer my most sincere congratulations to my great friend and mentor Earl Lewis who this week became the first U-M faculty member to receive the National Humanities Medal. Earl is a distinguished scholar, an award-winning author, and an educational leader, and I could not imagine a better selection by the National Endowment for the Humanities and President Biden.
In addition, I’m pleased to report that we remain an exceptional university for our generosity. Last Wednesday we held our ninth annual Giving Blueday, and the results were simply fantastic. Across all three of our campuses, we raised more than $5.3 M, which will go to the support of students, research, and programming across our three campuses.
Engage: Vision 2034The day after the inauguration, we launched our Vision 2034 website. It’s full of information about our strategic visioning effort, and also offers a direct opportunity to engage.
In addition, the Vision 2034 campus town halls are now underway. This is our opportunity to create a greater future together, so I urge you to engage, and to encourage your friends, colleagues, and fellow students to do the same.
As we are advancing our vision, we are furthering our other priorities.
We will lead with excellence through our unequivocal commitment to integrity. That’s why I’m so pleased to announce that we have launched a national search for an Ethics, Integrity, and Compliance Officer. The individual selected will have a critical role as a guardian of our trust, in ensuring that in every pursuit, we retain a rock-solid foundation of integrity.
And speaking of rock solid…
It is my profound pleasure to introduce a living, lasting recognition for a member of our family who proved each season – over the course of almost four decades – that she is, and we are, the leaders and best.
We know her as Coach Hutch.
But in the record books, Carol Hutchins is the winningest coach in NCAA softball history, who in her 38 years at the helm of U-M guided our Wolverines to an NCAA title in 2005, along with 22 Big Ten Conference titles. She retired last year as the winningest coach – male or female – in Michigan Athletics history, and thanks to her leadership – and mentorship – we have never suffered a losing season in program history.
I look forward to cheering on future seasons of success at the Carol Hutchins Stadium.
Looking ahead, spring is finally upon us, and that means commencement is soon to follow.
As you’ve seen, we have four distinguished leaders in the fields of music, higher education, art, and philanthropy who will receive honorary U-M degrees.
Wynton Marsalis, the artistic director of Jazz at the Lincoln Center will be our main speaker. In addition to being a world-renowned trumpeter and musician, he is a leading advocate of American culture and a long friend of Michigan. We met here in Ann Arbor last October, where he declared that if the University Musical Society could be replicated on every college campus, the world would be a much better place.
Our university has been a much better place thanks to the exceptional leadership of President Emerita Mary Sue Coleman. For me personally, she has been a fantastic guide, and she may well be one of the greatest university presidents of our time.
Dominique Morisseau is a Detroit native and U-M alumna, who has become one of America’s most produced playwrights, acclaimed for her lyrical language, her complex characters, and her authentic portrayals of individuals and communities struggling with social and economic change.
And our fourth, who will be receiving his honorary degree at Flint, is Phil Hagerman. An internationally recognized philanthropist and entrepreneur, Phil was born and raised in Genesee County, and has given back generously to that community – including our Flint campus – while pursuing an incredibly successful career in real estate and healthcare.
It’s going to be a fantastic commencement, and I look forward to seeing you there.
Santa J. Ono, PhD
(Culled from remarks prepared for delivery to the U-M Board of Regents on March 23, 2023. The lead image of President Ono surrounded by the Michigan Marching Band on the steps of Hill Auditorium on March 7 is by Michigan Photography.)