UC President-elect Michael Drake discusses academic background, future plans in livestreamed conversation

Michael Drake and John Pérez
In a livestreamed conversation with UC Board of Regents chair John Pérez, UC President-elect Michael Drake reflected on how his previous academic and professional experiences will help inform his future role in the UC system.

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In a livestream with UC Board of Regents chair John Pérez on Friday, UC President-elect Michael Drake discussed his experience in the academic field.

According to Pérez, finding a new UC president involved a search committee and consultations with faculty, staff and students. Additionally, the committee held forums, online portals and town halls for community members to share their thoughts.

“The 10-month search process was the most inclusive and thorough search in the history of the university,” Pérez said during the livestream.

Following the search process, Drake was chosen as the next UC president.

Drake has had long ties to the UC system, from being a UCSF student and professor for more than two decades to becoming vice president for UC systemwide health affairs from 2000 to 2005 and later becoming chancellor of UC Irvine from 2005 to 2014.

“Each experience, each opportunity, each thing that I’ve learned, each thing that’s worked well, each thing that could’ve worked better seemed to have helped prepare me for the next thing that was coming,” Drake said during the livestream. “It’s really been a step-by-step progression to this point.”

Drake became chancellor of UC Irvine during its 40th anniversary. At UC Irvine, Drake supported the creation of a law school and sat with members of the legal community to plan a “21st-century law school” with the goal of enhancing academic stances on campus, as well as serving the Orange County community.

According to Pérez, UC Irvine became a top 25 law school faster than any school in the country.

After years in the UC system, Drake decided to join Ohio State University as its president in 2014. At Ohio State, Drake approximately doubled Black enrollment, increased Hispanic and Asian enrollment by 50% and increased the number of Federal Pell Grant students at the school.

Drake also dealt with binational public health issues as a former co-chair for the California-Mexico Health Initiative, a program that improved health care for Latinx immigrants.

Now, as the next UC president, Drake said the role of the UC system as a land-grant university system is to uplift the community as a whole.

Drake also voiced his support for humanities and social science education, claiming their usefulness in understanding people, and he acknowledged the importance of the work the university does for agriculture and the economy.

“There is no other opportunity I would have considered at all. This is the most impactful public research university in the world,” Drake said during the livestream. “It’s the model for public research university systems in the world.”

Contact Blake Evans at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @Blake_J_Evans.