Record turnout hears from Ono, others at Congressional Breakfast


The 72nd annual University of Michigan Congressional Breakfast took place March 15 in Washington, D.C., and saw the largest gathering in its seven-decade history.

More than 330 people came together to celebrate the achievements of the U-M community and hear from newly inaugurated President Santa J. Ono. U.S. Rep. Grace Meng, D-New York, gave the keynote address, and Corie Pauling, president and CEO of the Alumni Association of U-M, also provided remarks.

The breakfast is an annual opportunity for U-M faculty, staff, students and alumni to connect with key policymakers in the nation’s capital, while honoring the many accomplishments of the university community.

Photo of President Santa J. Ono gesturing
President Santa J. Ono spoke at the first U-M Congressional Breakfast of his presidency, addressing a record crowd March 15. (Photo by Paul A. Sherman Photography)

Ono highlighted U-M’s impact in D.C. and around the world.

“I’m so honored to be serving as the 15th president of the University of Michigan. This is truly my dream job,” he said. “And one of my great hopes is to better connect the leaders and best in Ann Arbor with the best and brightest in D.C.

“For today we’re confronted with great challenges — as a university, as a nation and as a global community. But together, we can find solutions. For I am confident that our brightest days are still ahead. And I am convinced that by constantly discovering, learning, connecting and aspiring, we can transform our world.”

He went on to highlight his hope for what U-M aspires to achieve as a great public university.

“Today, more than ever, we need greater interconnectedness between U-M and Washington, D.C. And today we are the great research institution Henry Tappan envisioned, a university with an observatory on a hill — still aspiring to the stars,” Ono said.

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng, a U-M alumna, was the event’s keynote speaker. (Photo by Paul A. Sherman Photography)

Pauling highlighted the vast accomplishments of U-M alumni in shaping the world and challenged those in attendance to continually reflect on their experiences at U-M and use the skills and lessons taught there in their lives to continue to improve their communities and make them stronger.

Meng, a 1997 U-M alumna, highlighted her experience at U-M, including how the university’s diversity created an environment where she could listen to and learn from others.

“U-M to me was like a real-life Zoom,” she said.

The different people and varied campus activities functioned like breakout rooms and presented options to participate in different activities, but she could always come back to the larger university community and remain connected to her fellow students. As a result, Meng said, she learned U-M is a place that “will continue to thrive and raise up a more diverse generation of leaders.”

The annual breakfast is sponsored by the U-M Club of Greater Washington. Proceeds help provide scholarship support to D.C.-area students who want to attend U-M.


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