Resilience, determination, commitment, and commencement

May 2024

Dear alumni, friends, and supporters:

As we close another academic year, I am filled with a sense of immense pride and optimism. The resilience, determination, and commitment of our community continues to inspire and move us forward as a great university.

I want to extend my heartfelt congratulations to all of our recent graduates from the Ann Arbor, Dearborn, and Flint campuses. We’re incredibly proud of our most recent alumni, and we’re excited to see all that they will achieve as  they set out into the world.

‘Unleash your kindness’

Our spring commencement on May 4 was a celebration of everything our students have accomplished so far. In his address, commencement speaker Brad Meltzer, a proud Michigan alumnus and parent of a graduate, shared messages that resonated deeply with all of us. He encouraged our graduates to embrace their unique paths, to remain open to change and growth, and to understand the power of empathy and kindness in transforming lives. I encourage everyone to watch his address to experience the magic and motivation of his words.

While we celebrate the achievements of one remarkable group of students, we also look with anticipation to the future and our next class of proud Wolverines. On the admissions front, this year has been truly unprecedented. We received a record-breaking number of more than 105,000 undergraduate applications for the fall. This rise spans all categories, including significant increases in applications from first-generation students, in-state, out-of-state, and international students, as well as students of color and those from low-income backgrounds. This surge in interest is a testament to the University of Michigan’s enduring appeal and the global reputation we’ve built for academic excellence and transformative education.

A common agenda for well-being

With another academic year behind us – and a summer full of sunshine ahead – it is an opportune moment to pause and reflect, to assess not only our achievements, but the state of our well-being.

The well-being of our staff, students, and faculty is and remains one of my highest priorities as president of this university.

That’s why I was so pleased to see human health and well-being as one of the critical impact areas of the campus vision that we created together, and that we launched last month. In addition, we have established a Common Agenda for Well-being which will guide our work together in using policy and systems-level approaches to lead us toward becoming a health-promoting university.

Faculty kudos

Our critical mission to prepare the next generation of Leaders and Best would not be possible without our world-class faculty. Twelve members of our faculty and staff were recently honored as fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, recognizing their extraordinary academic achievements. Additionally, four others were selected to join the American Academy of Arts and Sciences for their significant contributions to scholarly and professional fields. Earlier this month, six U-M professors were inducted into the National Academy of Sciences for their distinguished achievements in original research. These accolades reflect the breadth and depth of our university’s commitment to advancing knowledge and contributing to the betterment of society.

Flint’s future

Lastly, I am thrilled to share important news about the future of the University of Michigan-Flint campus. After a comprehensive and deliberative search, which included input from stakeholders across the community and numerous qualified applicants from across the nation, our Board of Regents recently appointed Dr. Laurence Alexander as the new permanent chancellor of UM-Flint. Dr. Alexander joins us from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, where he served as chancellor. A former journalist, attorney, and First Amendment scholar, Dr. Alexander brings more than three decades of professional and academic experience as a distinguished professor, administrator, and university leader. His visionary leadership and extensive experience will undoubtedly guide UM-Flint to further success.

As we look ahead, we are filled with anticipation and excitement. The achievements of our graduates, the addition of Dr. Alexander to our leadership team, the recognition of our faculty, and the record levels of interest from prospective students all point to an institution that is strong, vibrant, and well-positioned going forward.

Thank you all for your support and dedication to the University of Michigan.

With warm regards,

Santa J. Ono
President, University of Michigan

(Lead image: Erin Kirkland, Michigan Photography)


  1. Mike Jefferson - 1980

    What magnanimous comments from a President who continues to stick his head in the sand while Jewish students face intimidation, harassment, and outright anti-Semitism on campus. The lack of rule of law, hatred, and anti-Democracy on this campus is shameful! Perhaps Ono will have an epiphany and act before he has to make a confessional like the German Pastor Martin Niemöller in the ashes of the Holocaust.


Leave a comment: