The UC Board of Regents unanimously approved Dr. Michael Drake’s appointment as the next president of the UC system in a virtual meeting Tuesday.
The meeting began with a public comment session, during which speakers pressed the regents to oppose the construction of the Maunakea telescope. Students and faculty also advocated for the regents to demonstrate support for international students in light of guidelines released by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Monday.
UC Board of Regents chair John Pérez said the regents plan to have conversations about “solutions” at future meetings.
Pérez also spoke about a “dismaying and disgusting series of attacks” toward members of the UC community, going on to reference the Supreme Court upholding President Donald Trump’s latest travel ban and the attempt to dissolve the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
“All of these are attacks rooted in a cynical politics of othering, and they are in complete conflict with the values of this university,” Pérez alleged during the meeting.
Pérez then discussed the Presidential Selection Committee appointed to select the next president and its nearly year-long process of including community members’ thoughts on the appointment through town halls and community portals.
Introducing Drake as the nominee, Pérez noted Drake’s work at Ohio State University in addressing diversity and inclusion, sexual harassment and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We wanted a new president who can both lead UC through these unprecedented times and who can position the university to expand on its excellence in the years ahead,” Pérez said during the meeting.
During the discussion period to approve Drake’s appointment, multiple board members also expressed their support for Drake, citing his past work and their personal experiences with him.
Janet Napolitano, the current UC president, reflected on her seven-year-long term and gave her support to Drake, the first person of color to hold the position.
“This is an important moment, one more step in our university’s ongoing effort to ensure that the university reflects the rich diversity of our state,” Napolitano said during the meeting. “With Dr. Drake at the helm, I know I would be leaving the university in the hands of a seasoned and committed leader.”
The board then unanimously voted to approve Drake’s appointment.
The meeting concluded with Drake’s remarks on his appointment. He expressed his gratitude for the “overwhelming” support from the board and thanked his mentors and family.
He also addressed the multiple challenges facing campuses today, including the COVID-19 pandemic, social injustice and climate change. Drake said the regents will continue to be “fully engaged” in resolving these challenges.
“I look forward very much to working with you as partners as we try to do our very best to write the next chapter in this great university,” Drake said at the meeting.