Dr. Michael Drake worked to increase the number of minority and underrepresented students while president of The Ohio State University

By Rachel DeSantis
July 08, 2020 12:09 PM
Michael Drake
Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty

The University of California system has appointed Dr. Michael Drake its next president, making Drake the first Black president in the system’s 150-year history, the Associated Press reported.

The 69-year-old will head back to California from The Ohio State University, where he has served as president for the past six years, according to a UC press release.

It’ll be a homecoming of sorts for Drake, who prior to working at OSU spent his entire academic career at UC, first as systemwide vice president for health affairs, then as chancellor of UC Irvine.

He also completed his residency, M.D. and fellowship in ophthalmology at University of California San Francisco.

Drake will replace Janet Napolitano, who said his appointment is “one more step in our university’s ongoing effort to ensure that the university reflects the rich diversity of the state,” according to the AP.

During his time at OSU, Drake established programs to increase student access and affordability, including enhanced scholarships to cover the cost of attendance and increased grants to support middle- and lower-income students, according to the release.

His tenure also saw the school reverse a 20-year trend of decreasing African-American enrollment, and the number of Black students admitted doubled between 2014 and 2020, the AP reported.

Meanwhile, while at UC Irvine, he helped oversee the establishment of new schools of law and education, as well as programs in public health, nursing and pharmacy.

Regent Gareth Elliott, who chaired the committee in charge of the presidential search, said in a statement the team was looking for someone who would prioritize “issues of equity and fairness,” and “be a powerful advocate at the state and national level.”

“I’m a firm believer in inclusion,” Drake said, according to the AP. “It takes all of us to do our best work.”

He’ll oversee 10 campuses with more than 280,000 students and 230,000 faculty and staff.

In addition to co-authoring six books and serving as a reviewer for several medical journals, Drake is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and is also on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame board of directors.

He and his wife Brenda have two grown sons and four grandchildren, according to the release.