University of Michigan hires Santa Ono as new president

Updated 2 years ago on September 23, 2022

Known in scientific circles primarily for his work related to the immune system and eye diseases, Dr. Ono also has a more playful side. He is known to dress in a Santa Claus costume, which is a reference to his last name. He is also considered an avid sports fan, which is an advantage at a major Big Ten university.

On a more serious level, he talked about his personal mental health problems in his youth. After a student suicide at the University of Cincinnati, where Dr. Ono also served as president, he encouraged students who were struggling with mental illness to seek counseling, recounting how he tried to kill himself at age 14 by taking cold medicine and beer, and at age 20 tried to kill himself again.

In addition to leadership positions at BC and Cincinnati, Dr. Ono previously served as vice provost at Emory University. Educated at the University of Chicago and McGill University, Dr. Ono has also taught at Harvard, Johns Hopkins University and University College London.

Since Dr. Schlissel's departure in January of this year, the university has been led by interim president Mary Sue Coleman, who was Dr. Schlissel's predecessor in the position until he took office in 2014.

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