July 20, 2023
In light of the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on affirmative action, I’d like to begin by reiterating our strong commitment to fostering a diverse educational environment for our students and scholars, which is essential to our core mission of academic excellence.
At U-M, as all of you know, we are convinced that racial diversity is one of the important components of a broadly diverse student body and an intellectually and culturally rich campus community.
In that regard, last month we agreed to invest nearly $80 million with the National Institutes of Health to enhance equity and inclusion across the health sciences community. Specifically, that funding will go toward the launch of the Michigan Program for Advancing Cultural Transformation, and to the recruitment of 30 new tenure-track faculty members to the Ann Arbor campus with a demonstrated commitment to equity and inclusion.
Recently we outlined our next steps in the Inclusive History Project, work which will commence this fall and continue for the next five years. Through this multifaceted project, we hope to document and better understand our U-M history with respect to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Opening new pathways
As we anticipate the new academic year, I’d like to acknowledge Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and members of the Michigan legislature for passing a budget that provides a significant increase (5 percent) in support for universities across the state, including our Ann Arbor, Flint, and Dearborn campuses.
We also appreciate the opportunity to work with the governor’s newly established Dept. of Lifelong Education, Achievement, and Potential, opening the way to a future of education, opportunity, and prosperity.
Over the past five years, U-M research has led to 2,540 new inventions and 117 new startups, many of which are based in southeast Michigan.
A look at the future
I’m delighted to announce that Shana Weber will soon join U-M as our first associate vice president for campus sustainability. She currently serves as the director of sustainability at Princeton University, and at U-M she will lead sustainability efforts on all three of our campuses, collaborating with an array of units across the University in pursuit of carbon neutrality and climate action.
Watch my July video message below to learn about our Planet Blue initiative and the University’s progress toward a more sustainable future.
I’m also pleased to note our progress on Vision 2034, of strengthening what makes U-M such a special place while deepening our impact and addressing the most pressing challenges of the day. To date, we have held some 55 community events, gathered thousands of ideas, and engaged thousands of members of our students, faculty, alumni, and staff.
Much more work is to be done, but I’m grateful to our team for the progress we’ve made and anticipate an update in the fall.
Santa J. Ono, PhD
(These remarks were culled from a speech presented to the U-M Board of Regents on July 20, 2023.)