The University of California system has named Dr. Michael Drake to replace Janet Napolitano and become its first Black president.
A physician, Drake was unanimously approved Tuesday by the Board of Regents. He enters the president’s office as campus budgets are being slashed and campus life upended by the coronavirus pandemic.
Drake was chancellor the University of California, Irvine from 2005 to 2014, when the university increased the number of applicants for undergraduate admission by more than 90% and added new programs in law, public health, pharmaceutical sciences and nursing science.
Drake went on to become president at The Ohio State University before he retired from that position last month. Prior to UC Irvine, he served as vice chancellor for health affairs for the University of California system.
The 10-month long search for the University’s next systemwide leader began in September after Napolitano announced she would leave UC in August 2020.
“Stepping down as president of the University of California is bittersweet, especially after seven wonderful, dynamic years, but I depart knowing Dr. Michael Drake will lead with experience and integrity, with the critical support and guidance of the UC Board of Regents,” said current UC President Janet Napolitano in a news release. “Michael has my full confidence, and I am excited to see how his fresh infusion of ideas and new perspectives will shape the University in the months and years ahead.”
Drake has published numerous articles and co-authored six books. He served as a reviewer for several medical journals, including the Journal of the American Medical Association, Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science and the American Journal of Ophthalmology. Drake is a member of several national scientific and scholarly societies, and has received various awards for teaching, public service, mentoring and research. He is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He received the UCSF School of Medicine’s Clinical Teaching Award, the Hogan Award for Laboratory Research, the Chancellor’s Award for Public Service, the Martin Luther King Jr. Award for University Service, the UC Irvine Medal, and the University of California Presidential Medal in recognition of his exemplary service to the University.
“Dr. Drake personifies the qualities we looked for in selecting a new president: He is committed to seeing the whole student and to supporting all our students. He recognizes the incalculable value of faculty and staff to the University’s mission, and he understands the importance of the public and private partnerships that help us achieve that mission,” said John A. Pérez, chair of the UC Board of Regents. “As the first person of color to serve as UC president, Dr. Drake returns to UC at an important point in the University’s journey. This is a homecoming the University of California is very excited to be celebrating early.”