August 3, 2022 – Isaacson, Miller’s John Isaacson, and John Muckle, along with Elizabeth Dorr Weithman have assisted in the placement of Santa J. Ono as the next president of the University of Michigan (UM). Dr. Ono, who is currently president and vice chancellor of the University of British Columbia (UBC), will begin his five-year term on Oct. 13. He will succeed Mary Sue Coleman, who has been serving on an interim basis since the board removed former president Mark Schlissel on Jan. 15 for having an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate. Dr. Coleman will continue in the role until Dr. Ono begins.
Dr. Ono’s appointment followed a comprehensive search that began in February. A presidential search committee that included students, faculty, staff, alumni, and regents worked with the Isaacson, Miller to identify and review candidates. The committee hosted seven public listening sessions earlier this year to collect input from members of the community about their hopes and expectations for a new president. An online survey collected additional thoughts from more than 1,000 respondents.
“It is readily apparent to me after getting to know Dr. Ono and learning about his experiences as a university administrator that he is the right person to lead the University of Michigan at this moment in time,” said regent Denise Ilitch, who with regent Sarah Hubbard co-chaired the search committee to select the new president.
Dr. Ono is an experienced vision researcher whose pioneering work in experimental medicine focuses on the immune system and eye disease. His track record of leadership at universities in the U.S. and Canada includes prioritizing sustainability efforts, strong advocacy for mental health issues, and an open communication style.
He is the leader of the University Climate Change Coalition, a network that connects 23 of the world’s leading research universities and university systems committed to accelerating climate action. He also serves as chair of the U15 Group of Canadian Research Universities, a collective of research-intensive institutions similar to the Association of American Universities.
Dr. Ono previously served as president of the University of Cincinnati and senior vice provost and deputy to the provost at Emory University.
Dr. Ono, who is of Japanese heritage, is the first Asian-American to lead UM. He holds a bachelor’s degree in biological science at the University of Chicago and a doctorate in experimental medicine from McGill University in Montreal.
He has taught at Johns Hopkins University, Harvard University, and University College London. While at the University of Cincinnati, he also served as a professor of pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
The University of Michigan is a public research university in Ann Arbor. Founded in 1817 by an act of the old Michigan Territory, the university is Michigan’s oldest. UM consists of 19 colleges and offers degree programs at undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral levels in some 250 disciplines. The university’s enrollment is about 32,000 undergraduate students and 16,000 graduate students.
A nationally recognized search firm focused on recruiting transformational leaders for mission-driven organizations, Isaacson, Miller has conducted thousands of placements over more than three decades. More than half of the firm’s work has been in academia, involving university presidents, college chancellors and deans. The firm has filled top leadership posts at Wellesley College, Washington State University, Miami University, Howard University, Bowdoin College, Dartmouth, NYU, Virginia State University, and the University of North Carolina, among others.
Mr. Isaacson, the firm’s chair, founded Isaacson, Miller in 1982. He has led searches in many areas of the firm’s practice. Mr. Isaacson has helped the firm develop its cumulative knowledge of the craft of search and has attended, with increasing interest, to the missionary purposes of institutions, the political and economic disciplines of specialized markets, and the emotional and intellectual learnings that leaders acquire in a committed working life.
Mr. Muckle heads the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) practice area for the firm, building scientific capacity at many leading academic institutions. He also has engaged in a number of the firm’s most recent university president and provost searches. In addition, Mr. Muckle is a leader in the firm’s healthcare practice, where he oversees the recruitments of deans, department chairs, division chiefs, and biomedical center and institute directors. He has assisted clients such as Duke University, Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, the University of Iowa, and the University of Pennsylvania, among other leading academic healthcare organizations to attract talent at all levels.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media