Michael V. Drake named new University of California president

Drake is the first Black president in the U.C. system's history

After a ten-month search, the University of California system of public universities, medical centers and nationally-affiliated labs has a new president: Michael V. Drake.

The new appointment made international headlines this week, as Drake is the first Black president in the University of California system's 152-year history.

“As the first person of color to serve as U.C. president, Dr. Drake returns to U.C. at an important point in the University's journey,” John A. Pérez, chair of the University of California Board of Regents said in a prepared statement.

Drake has spent almost four decades of his life trained or in service of the University of California system.

While he was most recently the president of Ohio State University for six years, Drake was previously the chancellor of the University of California, Irvine, from 2005 to 2014 and the vice president for health affairs of the University of California system from 2000 to 2005.

Drake is also an alumnus of the University of California, San Francisco. He earned his medical degree from the medical school and completed his medical residency and a fellowship in ophthalmology there. Before his career as a university administrator, he taught at his alma mater for more than two decades, including as a Steven P. Shearing Professor of Ophthalmology and senior associate dean.

He completed his undergraduate studies at Stanford.

In an email to California alumni this week, University of California, Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ praised Drake as a “champion for educational access for all.”

Most recently at Ohio State University, he established a new tuition guarantee program and boosted scholarships and grants, especially for low and middle-income students. Need-based financial aid at Ohio's flagship state university increased by more than $200 million during his tenure.

Drake's base salary is $890,000 a year, 56% more than his predecessor former Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano's $570,000 salary, who unlike he did not have any academic leadership experience. Ohio State University had paid him more than $1 million, between a salary of about $892,000, an annual research and education fund of $50,000, and an additional $100,000 in fringe benefits.

His University of California alma mater, UCSF, is also appointing Drake to a tenured professor position, pending an academic personnel review.

Notably, Drake is also the chair of the board of governors of the NCAA.