Get to know President Drake

News Release Date: 

Ohio State welcomes President Michael V. Drake as its 15th president. The 63-year-old doctor, scholar and cycling enthusiast arrives on campus with three decades of innovative service in higher education.

On June 30, Dr. Michael V. Drake begins his tenure as Ohio State’s new president. As a longtime university leader, professor and physician-scientist, Drake has a remarkable reputation for advancing academic excellence and access while guiding highly complex institutions to overall success.

With an engaging leadership style rooted in his own personal story, here are some unique facts about Ohio State’s 15th president:

1. He’s a true believer in the land-grant mission.

Drake has a steadfast commitment to opening the doors of higher education. As he writes inthis Buckeye Voices blog:

“Our main product is knowledge — transmitting knowledge to those we teach and creating knowledge for society, whether in the performing arts or the social sciences or through research and new technologies. Our mission is to share this knowledge.”

While he was chancellor of the University of California, Irvine, the number of underrepresented minorities increased nearly 60 percent in five years, and in 2014, three in five entering freshmen at UC Irvine were the first in their families to attend a four-year college.

2. Medicine and scholarship are part of his DNA.

Growing up with a father as a psychiatrist, Drake took an interest in medicine and became an ophthalmologist. In addition to serving as vice president for health affairs for the entire UC system, he has conducted clinical research on glaucoma and directed special research programs in tobacco, breast cancer and HIV/AIDS. Drake also is a noted scholar – the principal author of five textbooks, a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and a Distinguished Professor of Ophthalmology and Education.

[Drake meets staff of The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center] Drake meets staff of The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center during his visit to campus in January 2014.

3. But do you expect him to teach about music?

For many years, Drake taught a college course on how the music of the 1960s contributed to the civil rights movement. Drake grew up during the civil rights era, attending an all-black kindergarten in New Jersey just a year after the Supreme Court’s landmark desegregation decision, Brown v. Board of Education. He also recalls riding home from vacation in the family car in 1963 and listening to Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech.

4. BTW: He plays a mean guitar.

[Drake plays a mean guitar] Courtesy: UC Irvine Office of the Chancellor

In 2012, he jammed along on an electric guitar with the band JT & California Dreamin’ at the “Healing Under the Stars” gala, which raised $700,000 for the UC Irvine Medical Center.

5. He’s perfect for our Pelotonia team.

Drake loves putting foot to pedal. He led 50 cyclists on a 25-mile tour of Irvine in January, raising tens of thousands of dollars for a University of California systemwide scholarship campaign. He also rode often with UC Irvine’s cycling team. It surely prepared him for his next cycling challenge: He has committed to riding in Pelotonia 2014 this August.

[Drake is fitted for a Team Buckeye jersey, as his wife, Brenda looks on] During his visit to campus in January 2014, Drake dons a Team Buckeye Pelotonia jersey, as his wife, Brenda, looks on.

6. He’s a longtime fan of the Buckeye State.

The Drake family has Ohio roots. Drake’s mother — Beatrice Hayes Drake — graduated from Youngstown East High School in 1933. She worked as a lifeguard at the Youngstown YWCA to save enough money to attend Morgan State University. He recalls frequent trips to Ohio to visit aunts, uncles and cousins. As Drake returns to Ohio, welcome him back in Buckeye style with#OSUnewprez.