“We know we want to solve society’s most significant problems,” Ona said. “And we have an intellectual capital that is perhaps unmatched by any other institution. And we have human capital among our faculty, staff, students and alumni. We need a shared vision. All oars are in the same direction.”
On the topic:
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Ono praised the university’s current diversity, equity and inclusion efforts and said he looks forward to launching “DEI 2.0” in a year. He noted that the university “An inclusive history project,” which he said could lead to new art and monuments on campus, as well as a change in how the university names its buildings.
“We cannot be great without being diverse in the broadest sense of the word,” he said.
The university is investing $300 million in the university’s short-term working capital in companies that “work to protect the environment, are socially responsible and operate transparently, delivering high financial returns.”
Ohno also announced that the university will make long-term deposits at community banks in Flint, Dearborn, Detroit and Ann Arbor.
“These tens of millions of dollars of deposits are made with the understanding that they are lending,” he said. “This support will enable banks to do more for underserved communities.”
Access to college
Ono also praised a recently launched program that offers students at Henry Ford College with additional support to ensure they can transition to UM Dearborn. The program includes additional academic advising and scholarship opportunities so students know their community college credits will transfer to a 4-year university.
Students would begin at HFC and be guaranteed admission to UM-Dearborn based on their GPA and/or transfer credits. They will have a minimum of 60 credit hours transferred and will enroll at UM Dearborn as a junior.
“This is a triple win for Henry Ford College, the University of Michigan at Dearborn and our state’s economy,” Ona said.
The university will work with Delta Air Lines to “enhance the use of sustainable aviation fuel,” which Ono called an alternative to jet fuel.
The university will invest in the airline’s use of “economy jet fuel” and then be able to claim corresponding emissions reductions, according to University record. Alternative fuels can be made from vegetable oil, animal fat or agricultural residues. UM will contribute the equivalent of taking 326 gas-powered cars off the road for one year.
“We expect this collaboration to lead to useful research and increased global demand,” Ona said. “At the end of the day, we need to disrupt the way we think about climate change. It is not only climatologists and politicians to decide. We all have to be part of the solution. And the University of Michigan cannot and will not operate in a vacuum.”
UM has already committed to achieving carbon neutrality. The university wants reduce emissions from purchased energy to net zero by 2025set new targets by 2025 for indirect sources of emissions and eliminate direct greenhouse gas emissions on campus by 2040.
The university will launch a national search for a sustainability leader to help meet the university’s climate goals, Ona said. The individual will report to the Chief Financial Officer and Ono.
Ono, who presided University Coalition on Climate Change while at the University of British Columbia, announced UM will now be the lead university of the coalition. The coalition includes 23 North American universities.