British Columbia

UBC's president snapped this selfie with the French president at an 'extraordinary' meeting

Santa Ono's selfie game has reached a new level: posing with French President Emmanual Macron at the Élysée Palace, the president's Paris residence.

The global summit in Paris convened 48 university leaders and French President Emmanuel Macron

Ono said university leaders were told in advance that Macron is a fan of selfies. (Santa Ono/Twitter)

UBC president Santa Ono has made the selfie his trademark, snapping countless photos over the years with grinning students and faculty.

But on Wednesday night, his selfie game reached a new level: posing with French President Emmanual Macron at the Élysée Palace, the president's Paris residence.

The photo op capped off two days of meetings at the U7 Alliance, a global summit between 48 university leaders and the French president.

"It was extraordinary," Ono told CBC News on Thursday, fresh off a red-eye flight. "I have never had that level of engagement with a head of state before."

The inaugural summit convened university leaders from G7 countries and 14 other countries, which represent two million students, to tackle some of the world's most pressing issues, including climate change and inequality.

The leaders developed a series of commitments that they voted on and presented to Macron.

Ono said Macron spent about three hours with the university leaders, emphasizing the role that universities play in the future of international relations, including freedom of speech and world peace.

Ono was also allotted 15 minutes one-on-one with Macron, 41, who has served as president since 2017.

"He obviously has a very fine place in his heart for Canada," Ono said. "I think that his own ideas are very consistent with the values that Canadians hold."

Ono said he managed to get 15 minutes one-on-one with the French president. (Submitted by UBC)

As for that selfie? Ono said the leaders were told in advance that Macron is a fan of the self-portrait, and other university presidents jumped at the chance, too.

The final result: Ono, donning his characteristic bowtie, next to Macron, who sported a demure smile.

The French president invited the university leaders to his residence next year to follow up on their action items, Ono said.

"For a head of state to spend three hours with university presidents is unprecedented," he said. "It really motivates us."

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