Regents of the University of California on Tuesday chose Dr. Michael Drake as the new president of the university, making him the first person of color to lead the UC system.
Drake, the president of Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, was chosen unanimously by the UC regents.
Drake, 69, was a student and a faculty member of the University of California before leaving in 2014. He succeeds President Janet Napolitano who has been at the helm since September 2013 and was the first woman to lead the university.
“We face very, very significant challenges. We have a global pandemic that is still spreading. We have the yawning wounds of social injustice that we see in so many ways that really tears at the fabric of our lives.”Dr. Michael Drake
“Dr. Drake possesses the demonstrated insight, experience and commitment it takes to help us continue to grow the next generation of extraordinary California leaders,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement.
Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis said of Drake, “By all accounts, an incredible choice.”
Drake said that being away from the University of California and coming back is a “homecoming.”
After the vote, Drake spoke and thanked many people, including his wife and sons, who “have really created a world in which we could together make a day like this possible.”
Drake then addressed the work ahead.
“We face very, very significant challenges,” he said. “We have a global pandemic that is still spreading. We have the yawning wounds of social injustice that we see in so many ways that really tears at the fabric of our lives.”
He said, “We have the long-term threats of environmental degradation and climate change that must be addressed if we are going to continue as a species.
“The UC is among the few institutions worldwide best equipped really to meet these challenges,” he said. “Perhaps not to solve them and certainly not to solve them single-handedly, but to be fully engaged in finding solutions,” he said.
Drake became president of Ohio State University in June 2014. Before that he was chancellor of the University of California at Irvine for nine years.
He was a faculty member of the University of California at San Francisco School of Medicine for more than two decades. Drake earned his medical degree at UCSF and an undergraduate degree at Stanford University.
Napolitano will step down Aug. 1 and take some time off before teaching at the University of California at Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy.
“He has my full confidence,” Napolitano said of Drake.