2017: Professional Achievement Award

Santa J. Ono, AB’84

  • President and Vice Chancellor, University of British Columbia

Vancouver, British Columbia

As a professor of medicine and biology, Santa J. Ono, AB’84, has worked at Harvard, Johns Hopkins, University College London, and Emory University. He was inducted into Johns Hopkins’s Society of Scholars, which honors former faculty who have gained distinction in their fields, in 2015, and into the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences as a fellow in 2017. Ono’s research encompasses the immune system, eye inflammation, and age-related macular degeneration—a leading cause of blindness.

As a university administrator, Ono is known for his vision beyond the laboratory. He was the first Asian American president of the University of Cincinnati when he was appointed in 2012, having previously served as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. Prior to that, he was senior vice provost and deputy to the provost at Emory University.

Ono is deeply committed to diversity, and his achievements were recognized by the American Council on Education with the 2016 Reginald Wilson Diversity Leadership Award, which honors individuals who have demonstrated leadership and commitment to the advancement of racial and ethnic minorities in higher education. In 2015 Inside Higher Education named him America’s most notable university president.

An avid music lover, Ono studied at the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore and still finds time to sing and play his cello—even taking to the concert stage to perform on occasion.