Meet Michael Drake

By Kyle Rowland on January 30, 2014 at 9:15a

Later this afternoon, Ohio State University will name Dr. Michael V. Drake as its 15th president. Drake, the chancellor of the University of California at Irvine, doubles as an ophthalmologist and has led UC Irvine since 2005.

Drake’s hiring comes more than seven months after Gordon Gee retired following disparaging remarks about Catholics, the SEC, Bret Bielema and several other universities. Joseph Alutto served as interim president and will continue doing so until Drake, 63, arrives in Columbus in June.

Prior to his time at Irvine, Drake was vice president for health affairs for five years for all 15 health-science schools in the University of California system. His entire life has been spent on the West Coast and Drake’s career has involved medicine and higher education.

Drake, who will be Ohio State’s first black president, also has a long history with athletics. He’s on the NCAA’s Board of Directors, which comprises 18 university chief executives and acts as intercollegiate athletics’ leading governing body. During his time as chancellor, the Anteaters have experienced unprecedented success on the playing fields. 

“He’s been a member of a number of high-profile committees that are considering the most important issues facing the NCAA,” Irvine men’s basketball coach Russell Turner told Eleven Warriors in a phone interview. “He’s not new to the decision-making process at all.

“The [Ohio State] fans are going to be excited.”

Turner knows Drake from his time as an assistant coach at Stanford. Drake was a season ticket holder with seats behind the Cardinal bench.

“He’s visible at a lot of games,” Turner said. “I’m really happy for him to have landed such a prestigious and high-profile job. The fans of the athletic program there are going to be happy with the fit.”

Irvine’s been a constant presence in the top five of standings for the Division I-AAA All-Sports Trophy, awarded to the best postseason achiever among the country’s 95 Division I schools that do not compete in football. Irvine was No. 1 in 2007 and second in 2010 and 2011.

The men’s volleyball program has won four national championships the past seven seasons – 2013, 2012, 2009 and 2007 – the baseball team qualified for its first College World Series in 2007, and men’s and women’s water polo and men’s soccer have also experienced national success in recent seasons. The men’s basketball team played in the CIT last year.

“He’s been fully invested in our men’s basketball program improving because it has the opportunity to bring positive notoriety to the university and have a great impact,” Turner said. “He gets that. He’s been very clear on that and been very supportive of trying to improve. That’s a big part of why we’ve improved.”

At Ohio State, Drake will be involved with an athletic department with a budget in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The announcement of his hiring comes just days after athletic director Gene Smith received a promotion to vice president and raise. Smith will have a base salary of $940,484, but he’ll make a guaranteed $1.14 million that could grow to as much as $1.49 million.

Gee was the highest-paid university president, making north of $2 million. Drake makes $350,000 at Irvine.

Drake, always ready with a Willie Mayes story, grew up with athletics being an important part of his life. He’s an avid cyclist and recently led a group of 50 on a 25-mile tour of Irvine, fulfilling the Promise for Education he made during the fall. Drake raised $21,443, more than any other rider, for the University of California scholarship campaign.

The Michael Drake File

Born: July 9, 1951 - New York City

Alma Mater: Stanford University, University of California - San Francisco

Profession: Physician

Family: Brenda (spouse) and two sons

Hobbies: Cycling, travel, music, track and field, and stargazing

During his time at Irvine, the 49-year-old university ushered in a new era, becoming one of the nation’s foremost research universities. It has an enrollment of about 22,000 undergraduates, 2,000 graduate students and 4,000 doctoral students. U.S. News and World Report ranks Irvine as the No. 14 public university in the country, two spots ahead of Ohio State.

Drake’s tenure is highlighted by a number of successes, including establishing a law school and college of education, transforming the medical center’s reputation and construction of a new student center. Drake also displayed a prowess for fundraising, even as the state of California went through major budget cuts.

“He’s a very accomplished guy,” Turner said. “In the time Chancellor Drake’s been at Irvine, I think there have been a number of advancements across any number of disciplines. One thing he’s prided himself on is things get done with him in charge. They get done in time, and they get done on budget. That’s an effective mentality no matter what you’re managing or leading.”

Drake takes over Ohio State as the Wexner Medical Center nears the completion of a $1 billion cancer hospital. But his expertise and past experience in hospitals lends the university to believe he’s the right man at the right time.

“We’ve known here that we’ve had a great leader,” Turner said. “That’s the most important thing to know whether you’re the head basketball coach, the dean of the medical school or a janitor at one of the buildings.

“If you have a great leader, that means great things are possible.”


Comments Show All Comments

ToledoMan's picture

I wonder how he's going to like the cold.....  :)

Oyster's picture

That's why they told him to not show up until June.

"Scrolling hurts my finger"

(and FitzBuck was clearly the winner)

Buckeye Knight's picture

Smoove Jazz Part 2???

BTBuckeye's picture

Seems like a good fit. Welcome to Columbus Dr. Drake!
BAND NAME: DR. Drake & the Board of Trustees
Smooth Jazz in the house!

Stinson's picture

Omg, that picture of him playing guitar >>>>

"The height of human desire is what wins, whether it's on Normandy Beach or in Ohio Stadium." -Wayne Woodrow Hayes

azelins5's picture

18 university chef executives on the board? The spreads at those meetings must be phenomenal. 

hodge's picture

Sorry to be that guy, but he's playing a Gibson Les Paul.
Though I would love to hear him ripping on a Telecaster.

Denny's picture

Warm tubes and a tele >>>


Joe Beale's picture

It's true...nothing screams like a tele.  But you can't beat that rich tone in the Les Paul.

hodge's picture

I'll see your Led Zeppelin video, and raise you another -- oh yeah, and check the Telecaster Page is rocking.

stubbzzz's picture

you guys are totally speaking my language right now.  the VP at Gibson one time told me that they call Jimmy Paige a "guitar whore", because he would play whatever guitar somebody handed him.  ( seems like a good philosophy, if you ask me.)  but it seems like he was usually playing a Les Paul live.
you could always do what I did to my guitar, and switch back and forth between a sweet 50's Les Paul sound and a Tele sound.  Lindy Fralin Unbucker pickups are a thing of true versatile beauty.  

misterpants's picture

I am going to go out on a limb and wager that this is the first time Lindy Fralin has been mentioned on 11W. 

Buckeye Chuck's picture

It seems that the biggest part of any university president's job these days involves fundraising. Looks like Drake will have few problems in that area.

The most "loud mouth, disrespect" poster on 11W.

Denny's picture

Yes but will he talk about sports from his ivory tower


HotSauceCommittee's picture

I like it that stargazing is listed as a hobby.

spqr2008's picture

He seems very very qualified.  Plus if we ever get a QB like Jameis Winston, he can pull out the lasers and fix his eyes.

oregonianbuckeye's picture

As a west coaster, and someone in higher ed, I can't emphasize how much this guy is respected. He's done really great things at UCI. Feel like this is a homerun hire for tOSU. 

Scarlet_Lutefisk's picture

My only concern is the (slight) possibility of the University being wagged with the tail being the Medical Center. 

Doc's picture

Seems like a good hire.  I hope he does well.  I don't think we'll get another "Holbrook Experience" with him effing up the game day rituals and fun.  He understands the importance of athletics in a university environment.
Welcome aboard Dr. Drake.

CJDPHoS Member

The Official DDS of 11W

Floyd Stahl's picture

Are we hiring Kevin from the Tonight Show band?

FitzBuck's picture

I have to say I'm very impressed with his resume and he looks to be the perfect fit for OSU.  Fundraising is such a huge part of this job that having a charismatic person was a must.  I hope he continues some of the things that Gee was known for specifically his random interactions with students.   

Fitzbuck | Toledo - Ohio's right armpit | "A troll by any other name is still a troll".

CharlotteBuckeye's picture

Dr. Drake is my favorite all-time recruit at tosu. 5 star guy from the west coast, glad we were able to fiip him.
Go bucks!

1. Coach is always right.

2. See rule #1.

thunderhawks51's picture

Can he shoot the 3-ball? That would fill one of our greatest needs right now. 
But in all seriousness, as a proud alum, I am very pleased with this hire.

ibuck's picture

He has the look of someone who could hit the trey, or take you to the hoop, successfully. I hope he does well and that analogy fits his tenure.

Our honor defend, so we'll fight to the end !

If you can't win your conference, just quietly accept your non-playoff bowl game.

CarolinaBuck's picture

I'm not convinced this is a good choice. I think we should have got a better, more seasoned, more qualified candidate than this. What is also worrisome is he's being portrayed as the cool, hip president like Clinton and Obama were packaged. I want a serious person who is going to stand up to the various pressure groups and fight for the disintegrating rights of ALL the students on campus. Someone who can cut the massive waste and expense of Ohio State, which in my opinion has become a bloated half way house for useless administrators to the detriment of the students paying their way with ridiculous tuition rates. Can this man do this or is he just a status quo lapdog who can play guitar?

Optimistic Buckeye Pessimist's picture

Someone who can cut the massive waste and expense of Ohio State

I'm not saying that Gee wasn't a good president, but you do know that he frequently enjoyed the finer things and was probably offender #1.

I want a serious person who is going to stand up to the various pressure groups and fight for the disintegrating rights of ALL the students on campus.

So because he plays the guitar and is being portrayed as hip and cool, he automatically can't do this?

Read my entire screen name....

UrbzRenewal's picture

I want a serious person who is going to stand up to the various pressure groups and fight for the disintegrating rights of ALL the students on campus

Such as what rights?

Someone who can cut the massive waste and expense of Ohio State, which in my opinion has become a bloated half way house for useless administrators to the detriment of the students paying their way with ridiculous tuition rates.

You mean the tuition that's the best in the state value wise? I'm not sure what waste you're talking about either. Care to elaborate?

Denny's picture

Good satire.


WC Buckeye's picture

As a west coaster and parent of a UC-Irvine alumnus, I can tell you that your fears are unfounded. Drake is the real deal and a great "get" for our university. The other benefit I see (although they are already generously enumerated in the profile) is continuity - he may be around, I think, until he retires, which could be ~15 years. On the other hand, a high-profile, presumably successful black university president could be irresistible to other large institutions, so if it turns out (as I think) that he is a great hire, we'll need to keep pace with his pay to keep him around.

The only thing that's new in the world is the history that we have forgotten.

TimmyZ's picture

Love the Drake.

BrokeBuck's picture

Gotta love a president that can rock out. 

azelins5's picture

CarolinaBuck isn't convinced, and after seeing him with a picture of a guitar and knowing next to nothing else about him...who could blame him?

GOOMBAY's picture

Maybe if he'd been playing a more "serious" instrument? A harpsichord?

Earle's picture

Not many that are more serious than a harpsichord:

Snarkies gonna snark. 

hit_the_couch's picture

I wanna know if he can actually play though; if he's chopping down trees with that axe. I can't find any of his music on Youtube.
Doesn't anyone play the accordion anymore?

And then I told her...i'm no weatherman, but tonight's forecast is calling for several inches!

hetuck's picture

I assume he's staying at the Blackwell while he's in town. Would be great if he bumped into Malik and mom. Imagine that conversation: "I'm moving across the country to lead Ohio State. Send your son here for the best combination of academics and athletics in the nation."

Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.

Vince Lombardi

Seattle Linga's picture

Welcome aboard - hope you'll enjoy the winters around Columbus - it's like 65 and sunny all the time and never drops below 50 degrees

SilverState's picture

Just got the email...

"Dear members of the Ohio State community:
On behalf of the Board of Trustees and the Presidential Search Committee, it is our great pleasure to announce that Dr. Michael Drake, current chancellor of the University of California, Irvine, will serve as the 15th president of The Ohio State University. Dr. Drake will assume the Ohio State presidency on June 30."

New alum's picture

Loved the "preeminent position in higher education" comment. Probably hyperbole, but puffs up your chest as an alum.

Proud Michigander, OSU grad. Life is complicated.

Jim's picture

Interesting how both Michigan and OSU got new presidents within a week of each other, and both are MD's.  Drake seems to have had more of an administrative background, while Michigan's new pres, also a PhD, seems to have had more of a research background.
It will be interesting observing the directions the two schools will head under their respective tutelage. While all of us are sports junkies and sports get much of the publicity, athletics is really a very small portion of the total budget of both schools.

-1 HS