President Santa J. Ono wearing a blue suit jacket smiling and standing with his arms crossed.
Dear Alumni and Friends,

Since taking on my new role at the University of Michigan last month, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting with and listening to so many of our faculty, students, staff members, alumni, elected leaders, donors and partners. These conversations have not only helped to center me in this work; they have helped to chart our path forward. 

Our institution is one defined by its commitments to excellence, diversity, integrity and investments in our people. These commitments are what attracted so many of us to this place. But we must also consider how we can make a great public research university even stronger – better positioned and prepared to educate tomorrow's leaders and address society's most pressing challenges.

I had the opportunity this week to share some early impressions and priorities in pursuit of these goals with our campus leaders. I’ve highlighted some of the key steps below, but I welcome you to read the Leadership Message in its entirety for added context.

The University of Michigan will soon embark on a strategic visioning process that will build on critical work already underway. A shared vision for our three campuses will allow us to sharpen our impact and determine what we stand for and where we want to go as a great public university.

On the research front, we will accelerate our scholarly prominence with new investments in people and processes. We will look to recruit additional faculty members and invest in our current ones to better enable their expertise for tackling significant societal challenges.

The university will continue the critical work toward achieving carbon neutrality. We’re mobilizing our assets and talents to make a positive impact. This includes hiring a senior-level leader to support our sustainability efforts, partnering with Delta Air Lines to improve and use sustainable aviation fuel and working with other leading North American universities as the new lead institution for the University Climate Change Coalition.

The university’s financial team also is taking bold steps to ensure we are better aligning our commitments to sustainability and diversity, equity and inclusion through our investments. One way is through beginning to work closely with community banks in the cities where the university has the largest footprint – Flint, Dearborn, Detroit and Ann Arbor – to deposit significant amounts and help spur local lending and other support for underserved communities. U-M also will be investing in high-performing companies that maintain strong environmental, social and governance – or ESG – practices. 

While there is so much positive to say about the University of Michigan, it’s critical that we also acknowledge mistakes and times when we fell short of our mission. We cannot move forward until we acknowledge those we’ve excluded in the past, so a new Inclusive History Project will engage our community in developing a fuller understanding of our university’s flaws and triumphs. 

Throughout all of this work – and it will take hard work – I can promise you that this vision will be guided by the will of the university community. I will continue to meet with people and talk. And, most importantly, listen.