Success Story July 08, 2020 at 09:00 am

Michael V. Drake becomes University of California’s first black president in 152 years

Theodora Aidoo | Staff Writer

Theodora Aidoo July 08, 2020 at 09:00 am

July 08, 2020 at 09:00 am | Success Story

Michael V. Drake, first Black president of the University of California - Pic Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Dr. Michael V. Drake has just been named as the first African-American president of the University of California in its 152-year history. Drake is an ophthalmologist by training and earned his medical degree from the University of California, San Francisco.

The University of California Board of Regents announced his appointment on July 7, making him the 21st president of UC’s world-renowned system of 10 campuses, five medical centers, three nationally affiliated labs, more than 280,000 students and 230,000 faculty and staff.

According to Regent Gareth Elliott, chair of the Special Committee in charge of the presidential search, UC faculty, staff and students repeatedly said that they want a president, who will prioritize issues of equity and fairness, as well as, a powerful advocate at the state and national level.

“When we needed the right person to steward UC’s global reputation, it turns out we didn’t have to look too far from home. I am very proud of this thorough and inclusive search, and I’m delighted it resulted in such a great match with Dr. Drake,” he said.

Drake, a former president of The Ohio State University, will succeed Janet Napolitano, who indicated last September that she wanted to step down from her position on Aug. 1, 2020.

Napolitano, who was the UC system’s first female president, said: “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. 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.”

On his appointment, Drake said: “I look forward to working with the regents, chancellors, students, faculty, staff, alumni, and our broader community as we, together, guide the University through the challenging times ahead.”

“We are thrilled that Dr. Drake has chosen to return to UC at this pivotal moment in the midst of profound global and national change,” professor Kum-Kum Bhavnani, chair of UC’s Faculty Academic Senate and the Academic Advisory Committee said.

In 2014, Drake was named the 15th president of Ohio State University, a position he recently announced he would be retiring from. Prior to that, he was the chancellor of the University of California, Irvine from 2005 to 2014.

The 69-year-old has also served as vice chancellor for health affairs for the University of California system. He is a former chair of the board of directors of the Association of American Universities and currently serves as a member of the board of directors for the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.

Dr. Drake is also the chair of the board of governors of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, a member of the American Talent Initiative Steering Committee, and a member of the board of directors of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Drake has published numerous articles and co-authored six books. He has reviewed several medical journals, including the Journal of the American Medical Association, Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science and the American Journal of Ophthalmology.

Drake’s public service, teaching and research has earned him numerous awards including 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.

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