Former UC Irvine Chancellor Michael V. Drake, who recently stepped down as head of Ohio State University, was named Tuesday the next president of the University of California system, becoming its first Black president.
Drake, 69, served as UC Irvine chancellor from 2005 to 2014, when he left for Ohio State. He previously taught at UC San Francisco and was the UC system vice president for health affairs before earning the post in Irvine.
The university system’s first Black president will replace the first female president, Janet Napolitano, who has led the university since September 2013. Napolitano previously served as U.S. Homeland Security secretary, was governor of Arizona and served as U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona.
Drake will oversee a system that includes 10 campuses, five medical centers, more than 280,000 students and 230,000 faculty and staff.
“Much has changed in the 15 years since I was given the privilege of becoming chancellor at UC Irvine, but not my absolute belief in this great university and its time-honored mission,” Drake said in a statement. “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.”
Drake has a national reputation for bolstering access to higher education for students of all income levels and ethnic backgrounds. According to the university, his time at UC Irvine saw increases in the four-year graduation rate, undergraduate enrollment and diversity. He also oversaw the establishment of schools of law and education.
“Dr. Drake personifies the qualities we looked for in selecting a new president: He is committed to seeing the whole student and to supporting all our students,” UC Board of Regents Chairman John A. Perez said. “He recognizes the incalculable value of faculty and staff to the university’s mission, and he understands the importance of the public and private partnerships that help us achieve that mission.
“As the first person of color to serve as UC president, Dr. Drake returns to UC at an important point in the university’s journey. This is a homecoming the University of California is very excited to be celebrating early.”
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