Prioritizing safety, striving for peace, and mourning loss

October 2023

Dear alumni, faculty, and staff:

It has been a difficult few weeks for so many in our community. We’ve all watched in horror as the ongoing violence continues to unfold in the Middle East.

I’ve had hundreds of students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents, and others reach out to me to express their concerns about the safety of our three campus communities and to share the collective impact of the recent violence.

In Ann Arbor, Flint, and Dearborn, campus safety is our highest priority.

On each campus, we are committed to creating a community where every student, faculty member, staff member, or visitor can thrive without the fear of threats, intimidation, or violence.

As a university community that is truly international in its makeup, we hope for peace and mourn the loss of lives in Israel and Gaza.

Healing through the arts

[In his October 2023 video message, President Ono focuses on the University’s enduring commitment to creativity and the arts.]

Ethics, integrity, and compliance

This month, the UM-Flint campus hosted our regular Board of Regents meeting. It was exactly a year ago that I formally joined in my first regents’ meeting, also in Flint.

At that time, I announced my commitment to rebuild trust, and to better prevent issues of misconduct on campus, through the establishment of an independent office dedicated to ethics, integrity, and compliance services. I am pleased to report that Michelle Casey has accepted our offer to serve as the University of Michigan’s inaugural Ethics, Integrity, and Compliance Officer, and I could not imagine a better individual to serve.

Michelle comes to us from Illinois, where she served as the executive director for the state’s executive ethics commission, and where she is a well-respected leader. She has served as an attorney for both the executive and legislative branches of government, and is an expert in financial disclosures, conflicts of interest, and policy.

She earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a Juris Doctor from the George Washington University of Law, and a Master of Laws in Taxation from the Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law.

Growth spurt

I’m also pleased to report that our campuses are continuing to grow, develop, and thrive.

We recently celebrated the groundbreaking for our new South Fifth Residential Development, which will address a great need for increased first-year student housing, as well as open a great opportunity for students to better connect across our campus and community.

We’ll need that housing: This fall, our total enrollment reached more than 52,000 students, including a record number of incoming students, making us one of the largest and most sought-after public research universities in the country.

Seated African American man wearing ballcap addresses an unseen audience with hand gesture.

Hip-hop artist David Banner (third from right) makes a point during a DEI panel discussion.  (Image credit: Erin Kirkland, Michigan Photography.)

That class consists of more first-generation students and students from low-income backgrounds, as well as a greater number of students of color, which comprise 44 percent of this year’s incoming class.

In that regard, we recently held our DEI Summit on our Ann Arbor campus, including the launch of DEI 2.0, and I’m excited to see how we will continue to work together and strive together for academic excellence amid a broadly diverse learning community.

This fall, UM-Dearborn welcomed a record-breaking incoming class, with first-year enrollment the highest in its history. UM-Flint also saw an increase in total fall enrollment for the first time in nearly a decade.

In addition, UM-Flint announced the formulation of a comprehensive ten-year campus plan, which will revolve around the changing nature of work and education. Its foundation will be built on inclusivity and collaboration.

The University of Michigan also reported a record $1.86B in research volume during fiscal year 2023 – an 8.1 percent increase from last year — which led to critical advancements in areas ranging from microelectronics and global infectious disease to social justice and artificial intelligence.

Thanks to all of you, I’m looking forward to even brighter days and even greater accomplishments to come.


Santa J. Ono, PhD
(Culled from remarks prepared for delivery to the U-M community on Oct. 19, 2023. Lead image, from left: Sally Churchill, vice president and secretary; Geoff Chatas, executive vice president and chief financial officer; E. Royster Harper, vice president emerita for student life; Regents Ron Weiser and Kathy White; President Santa J. Ono; Regents Sarah Hubbard and Jordan Acker; Martino Harmon, vice president for student life; Kambiz Khalili, associate vice president for student life; and Andrew Kasper, Residence Halls Association vice president for finance.)


  1. Eric Carlson - 1985


    Thank you for your messages of compassion and concern. As a graduate, I am certainly passionate (elated) about my experience in Ann Arbor as an undergraduate but am excited about the focus you and your administration have on the broader UM community. I don’t recall hearing much of anything about the UM – Flint or UM – Dearborn campuses during my time in Ann Arbor. Very glad to see these getting some attention!

    Forever Go Blue!



  2. John Drew

    Rap and hip hop artists should come out with songs encouraging and promoting peace, understanding and not resort to violence, EVER. You guys should be the catalysts in showing how getting along looks like. Maybe having an assembly where Drake or other artists promote love. Maybe getting a jew and Palestinian up on stage and hugging each other and promising not to resort to violence. It’s Hamas that attacked the Jews, not Palestinians. Israel is fighting Hamas, not Palestinians. If you could get the son of the Hamas leader to talk to the students, that would be fantastic. He is a U.S. citizen. His name is Mosab Hassan Yousef.


  3. Judi Speir-Crawford - ? About 50 yrs ago

    There were many poor and first generation students at the U many years ago. They forgot to ask us about it. It seemed that no one really cared how much we were struggling. I worked full-time as a director of a foster care program, went to school full time, had a husband and two children, house payment, car payments, etc. There was never any financial help.


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