Guest Column: Making U-M the Defining Public University

U-M President Ono explains Vision 2034 and alumni’s role.
By Santa Ono


Read time: 2 minutes

Alumni are such an essential part of our family. When people think about U-M’s size and capabilities, they often simply think about the tens of thousands who are on our campuses, rather than our more than 670,000 alumni.

You are a support, a strength, and a wellspring. That’s why I was so thankful for your engagement in our Vision 2034, which is discussed in detail starting on page 26. More than 25,000 members of the U-M family engaged in this visioning process — including students, staff, and faculty — but alumni like you played an outsized role in its development.

Your memories of this place, your keeping the flame of our spirit and traditions, your understanding of both where we have fallen short and what we might yet achieve, were absolutely essential in creating this vision.

We’ve never done this before as a university — engaging in a collective process to imagine our future, to determine what we can do, and what we will aspire to do, together.

While universities typically evolve gradually, at a deliberate, considered pace, they may also have the chance to go through a rapid change, a punctuated equilibrium that opens new horizons, and sets them on a decisive new trajectory.

This is our vision. This is our opportunity.

Together, we will draw on our ethos, our tremendous strengths, and our exceptional capabilities to transform us into the defining public university.

We will do so by leveraging our interdisciplinarity and excellence at scale to educate learners, advance society, and make groundbreaking discoveries that impact the greatest challenges facing humanity.

We’ll achieve this in several impact areas including life-changing education; human health and well-being; climate action, sustainability, and environmental justice; and democracy, civic, and global engagement.

In concert, with the approach of the presidential election this fall, we will embark upon “The Year of Democracy and Civic Engagement,” which will include speakers, lectures, and performances to help us engage thoughtfully and find solutions together.

All of these efforts — and more — will be guided by our commitment to our core values as a university: values of respect, innovation, integrity, and diversity, inclusion, and equity.

With our vision complete, it is now up to all of us — our students, staff, and faculty, as well as you, our supporters and our alumni — to transform it into a reality. As during your time with us on campus, it is again ours to build and create, to aspire and achieve, to serve and to lead.

Thank you again for joining me. Wherever Wolverines go, progress follows, so together, let’s make U-M the defining public university. Let’s look to Michigan, and let’s dare to achieve our dreams.

Go Blue! 

Santa Ono is the president of the University of Michigan. 

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