Dr. Santa J. Ono to receive inaugural Honorary Doctorate from Tyndale University

By Tyndale Communications  /  Monday, May 13, 2024

Dr. Santa J. Ono

Tyndale University’s Board of Governors, Senate, and Faculty are pleased to announce that Dr. Santa J. Ono will be conferred the degree Doctor of Letters (honoris causa) at this year’s Undergraduate Studies Convocation on Saturday, May 25, 2024.

This is the first time Tyndale University will confer the Doctor of Letters (honoris causa) for distinguished service in the arts and scholarship since receiving authority under its revised charter. This degree honours a person whom the Board of Governors, Senate and Faculty believe has provided an outstanding service to Canada and the world; it recognizes their exceptional contribution to society as a person of Christian faith and presents to the Tyndale community as someone who models Tyndale’s mission, aspirations and values as an institution of Christian higher education.

Dr. Ono more than exemplifies these virtues.

“We are delighted to confer the Doctor of Letters (honoris causa) on Dr. Santa J. Ono in recognition of his outstanding global service to Higher Education.”

— Dr. Marjory Kerr

Dr. Ono was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, and is the son of mathematician Takashi Ono who emigrated from Japan to the United States. He has dual US and Canadian citizenship, and has earned degrees on both sides of the border: a BA with a major in biological science from the University of Chicago in 1984, and a Doctor of Philosophy in experimental medicine from McGill University in Montréal in 1991.

He has demonstrated exemplary service to higher education in Canada, the United States and globally. He is the current President of the University of Michigan, and was formerly President of the University of British Columbia and the University of Cincinnati. He also served as Senior Vice Provost and Deputy to the Vice Provost at Emory University and has taught at John Hopkins University, Harvard University and University College London.

While at UBC, Dr. Ono chaired the U15 Group of Canadian Research Universities and the Research Universities of British Columbia, and served on the board of Universities Canada. He also served on the steering committee of the Association of Pacific Rim Universities; Government of Canada’s Industry Advisory Ad Hoc Roundtable on COVID-19 Testing; and the boards of Fulbright Canada and Mitacs.

Dr. Ono is an accomplished researcher in biology and medicine, having served as the GlaxoSmithKline Chair of Biomedical Science and head of the department of immunology at the University College London Institute of Ophthalmology. His areas of research expertise include ophthalmology, particularly concerning the eyes and the immune system. He has studied ocular surface inflammation and the immune basis of age-related macular degeneration.

Dr. Ono’s academic and administrative record highlights his care for students, his servant leadership and the way he lives out his faith in various contexts. He also serves as a lay minister in the Anglican Church and has served on InterVarsity’s board of directors.

In 2022 Dr. Ono gave a talk on, “Faith and Leadership in a Time of Crisis” at the Vancouver School of Theology that focused on the role that faith has in supporting leaders in changing times. Dr. Ono describes his philosophy of servant leadership as leading by example rather than by authority. He also considers it important for leaders to listen with compassion and empathy. His goal is to help those he leads to become servants as well.

“This embodies the mission of Tyndale’s Christian liberal arts degree program to equip students to pursue truth and excellence, to enrich their minds and hearts, and form their character in order that they may serve the church and the world for the glory of God,” says Dr. Marjory Kerr, President and Vice Chancellor. “We are delighted to confer the Doctor of Letters (honoris causa) on Dr. Santa J. Ono in recognition of his outstanding global service to Higher Education.”

Dr. Ono also holds other honorary doctorates, including one from the Vancouver School of Theology.