December 2022 video message

President Santa J. Ono’s December 2022 message to the students, faculty and staff at the University of Michigan.

Well-Being Collective

Hello, colleagues and friends across the U of M community!

This is a joyous season, but it can also be an extremely stressful time … even after exams have been finalized.

There’s so much to think about – study plans, travel and gifts for the holidays.

But there’s so much to look forward to too – the end of exams, reunions with family and friends, and the promise of the new year ahead.

At U of M, we want you to live happy, fulfilling lives.

In season and out, we want you to learn and grow and thrive.

That’s why we place such an emphasis on health and wellbeing for students, faculty and staff.

Our Well-Being Collective was established specifically for that reason. It takes a holistic approach to the development and wellness of the whole person – and the whole community.

Through the Collective – and I strongly encourage you to check out its website – you can explore an array of resources for all the members of our community, including parents and families. There’s everything from nutritional guidance to exercise classes to resources for combating loneliness.

Together, we can pull through the end of the semester, and on to a new year of possibility.

One reason 2023 will be brighter is thanks to the new Institute for Energy Solutions which we launched earlier this month. It will use our broad range of expertise to accelerate an equitable transition to a more sustainable energy future.

As we look to the holidays, let us also remember those in Iran who are suffering and struggling, and even dying for fundamental rights and dignities. We are proud to stand with the people of Iran, and we echo their cry, “Women, Life, Freedom,” “Jin Jiyan Azadî.”

I’d now like to introduce a new feature, Portrait of a Wolverine. Each month we’ll highlight a different member of our community, who is living out our best traditions as the university.

This month we’re featuring Jared Wadley, a valued member of our communications team, and even more importantly, a keeper of Legend.

You may have seen Legend around campus, especially around this stressful time of the season. Legend is a collie, a therapy dog that Jared brings around campus, to soothe with the power of touch and love and companionship. Legend brings that same love and healing touch on visits to children and their parents at the U-M Mott Children’s Hospital. Nosing down corridors, Legend lights up hospital rooms, bringing smiles and hope and yes, ap-plaws.

Legend even has a literary bent, ears pricked up with children as they learn to read. Many of those children also have dogs at home, and Jared tells them Legend wants them to read to their pets too. It’s a powerful incentive, and Legend has had a part in not only lifting literacy, but even raising grades.

In all these efforts, Legend – and Jared – are volunteers.

Jared caught the idea when he saw information about therapy dogs while walking across the Diag. He points out that anyone with a well-behaved, four-legged friend can take part. While there are screening requirements, his organizations, Therapaws of Michigan and the Alliance of Therapy Dogs, require volunteers to make just a single visit every three months.

Legend – and Jared – are a great example of what we can do as a community.

When we come together, we can encourage one another and strengthen one another, lifting our lives and brightening our days.

So in that spirit, I wish you a safe and splendid season, of merry moments and happy holidays!

Thanks again for joining me, and I’ll see you in 2023.