The federal government recommends demolishing over 200 buildings at the site of a former Cold War-era uranium plant in southern Ohio.
Michael Drake Named New Ohio State President
It took six months, but Ohio State University Board of Trustees narrowed the field of presidential candidates down to one man they say has all of the skills necessary to lead one of the nationâ€™s largest public institutions. Trustees, Thursday, tapped University of California Irvine Chancellor Michael Drake as OSUâ€™s 15th president. Drake dubbed the position a â€œpremierâ€ post in higher education.
The list of qualifications was long. Ohio State Board of Trustees said they wanted a president who has knowledge of a land grant university, someone who can manage complexity and is familiar with the workings of a large medical center. They desired someone who understands academics, diversity and athletics.
Some on the committee wondered if theyâ€™d set to the bar too high.
But trustee Jeffrey Wadsworth, who led the search, said Michael Drake surpassed the qualifications.
â€œI have to tell you that not only was he very well-prepared, but he had the most articulate description of the needs of a 21st Century land-grant university that Iâ€™ve ever heard…And things got better from there,” he said.
Wearing a scarlet-and-grey tie, Drake equated the wait to hear he was selected to the anticipation of â€œrocket launchâ€ or â€œChristmas.â€
â€œI just would say, I think, how excited and thrilled and honored we are to be here,” Drake smiled.
The move to Columbus will be a homecoming of sorts for Drake whose mother was raised in Youngstown.
â€œOhio was where her home and family were for her. And we came to visit as a child, and so coming back has been quite touching and special for me,” he said.
An ophthalmologist, Drake was named the fifth chancellor of U-C Irvine in 2005, where he also was a professor. There he oversaw the creation of a new law school, helped raise more than three-quarters of a billion-dollar fundraising campaign and launched several new health sciences programs.
But Drake said Ohio State could be the â€œcapstone of [his] careerâ€ with the greatest challenges.
â€œIâ€™m at an institution now that has a budget of just over $2 billion a year, thatâ€™s a lot, here itâ€™s $5 billion. We have nearly 30,000 students. Here itâ€™s more than 60,000,” Drake said. “The academic medical center here is twice as large. The level of intensity and heft and important and weight of this university are as great as any that exists.â€
In the coming months, Drake said he will hone in on where his support is needed most at the university. He touched on sustainability, health sciences and college affordability.
â€œParticularly for our increasingly diverse population. We want to make that sure the talent and potential of everyone is fulfilled. And anything that we can do to make that easier particularly for those who have challenges is something that I think the benefit accrues to the society broadly.â€
Drake, 63, who will be Ohio Stateâ€™s first African-American president, doesnâ€™t come to Columbus alone. He and his wife, Brenda, a lawyer, are described as a â€œpower coupleâ€ known for interacting with students.
â€œA couple times of year collect a group of students, who are average students, who donâ€™t have anything that allows them to stand out in any particular way except being a part of the community, and then have them for dinner,” he said. “And then Brenda has also hosted for several years recitals with student performers playing for different members of the staff on the campus.â€
Drake was unknown to many at Ohio State. But after attending the boardâ€™s announcement, faculty and staff expressed excitement for the Drakesâ€™ arrival.
OSU associate provost Stephen Myers said he is eager to see how theyâ€™ll help continue the university’s momentum.
â€œThe both of them understand developing a vision, putting together the plan and doing the hard work. And so I think itâ€™s just incredible,” Myers said.
And Kim Shumate, who works in Ohio Stateâ€™s human resources department, said she thinks Drake intends to interact with students and faculty.
â€œI think heâ€™s going to be a very engaged, hands-on person that people will very quickly come to love.â€
The details of Drakeâ€™s contract, such as salary and length of term, are still being negotiated, but he chuckled, â€œI will stay as long as Iâ€™m loved and weâ€™re having a great time. And I hope that thatâ€™s a long, long time,â€ he laughed.”
Drake’s first day on the job is set for June 30.