And by the three-month mark, his black locks of hair are tumbling onto center court of Fifth Third Arena following the Bearcats men’s basketball game -- demonstrating again the lengths he’ll go to for UC. Ono made good on a bargain he made with the team; he would shave his head if they reeled off 10 straight wins. More important, he used the occasion to help raise funds for the Dragonfly Foundation, a local charity that helps kids with cancer.
The new president’s enthusiasm and dedication are only part of what made him the clear choice in October 2012 to replace UC’s former president, Greg Williams. After serving as provost for two years, Ono spent two months as interim president, then immediately emerged as the front-runner for the position, said UC board chairman C. Francis Barrett, who led the selection process for UC’s 28th president.
According to Barrett, “a groundswell” of support from students, faculty, administrators and alumni swept UC’s first Asian-American chief executive into office. The reasons given for wanting to hand him the keys to UC’s highest office varied greatly by group, Barrett added.
Students talked about their ability to relate to him and how much he boosted morale (usually through social media), while faculty saw him as “one of their own” -- a distinguished biomedical researcher with impressive stops at Harvard, Johns Hopkins and Emory universities. Ono, 50, holds appointments in both the UC College of Medicine and the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences.
Administrators pointed to his experience as provost, UC’s top academic officer, in which he led the development of “UC2019,” the university’s academic master plan, as well as his ability to build consensus and advocate for UC, whether uniting community resources or vying for state funding.