ACE announced today that Santa J. Ono, president of the University of Cincinnati, will receive the 2016 Reginald Wilson Diversity Leadership Award.
The award is named in honor of Reginald Wilson, senior scholar emeritus at ACE and founding director of the Council’s Office of Minority Concerns (now part of the ACE Inclusive Excellence Group), and is presented annually to an individual who has made outstanding contributions and demonstrated sustained commitment to diversity in higher education.
The award will be presented during the closing plenary of ACE2016, ACE’s 98th Annual Meeting, on March 15 in San Francisco.
“Santa Ono is an engaged diversity leader with a tenacity of spirit and conviction who consistently provides opportunities for access and advancement in higher education,” said ACE President Molly Corbett Broad. “I am honored to add his name to the list of Wilson Award winners who have honored Reginald Wilson’s legacy and commitment to ensuring inclusion for all students.”
Ono has served as the 28th president of the University of Cincinnati (UC) since 2012. He is the first Asian American president of the university and in the state of Ohio.
During his tenure at UC, Ono has been an outspoken advocate of increasing diversity and inclusion at all levels of the university. He has created the most diverse executive team in the institution’s history, with nearly 40 percent of its members African American and women. He appointed the institution’s first full-time chief diversity officer.
He worked with the chief diversity officer to launch the university’s Diversity Plan and designed a mechanism to monitor progress toward goals annually. Additionally, he encouraged the sale of UC’s presidential residence to create the equivalent of a $3 million endowment for student scholarships supporting underrepresented minorities and those with financial need.
He has utilized his social media expertise to connect directly with students and community members about a range of diversity issues in personal and meaningful ways. He also convened a forum to discuss equity in our criminal justice system and announced that his office will provide seed funding for faculty, staff and students to conduct research, develop new courses or host speakers related to ensuring equity within our criminal justice system. He has also implemented a new safety and reform initiative and has met with African American student activists, including a group called The Irate 8, to take steps to help the university become more inclusive.
Ono also serves as chair of the Urban Serving Universities Health Strand. Under his leadership, senior leaders in UC’s College of Nursing led a landmark survey of holistic review in the admissions process to increase diversity in the health professions.
An avid cellist, he has teamed with MYCincinnati, an urban-based string ensemble for Cincinnati youth, to perform together at a variety of public events.
Previously, he served as UC’s provost and senior vice president for academic affairs from June 2010 until his appointment as president in 2012.
Ono served as senior vice provost and deputy to the provost at Emory University (GA) prior to arriving at the University of Cincinnati. While at Emory University, Ono served as a founding member of the Board of Directors of the Posse Foundation-Atlanta, introduced the Questbridge program into the university and helped launch the Emory Advantage program that has significantly diversified the student population at that university.