Ohio State Students Welcome New President

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Ohio State's newly-named president received a welcoming from students at Ohio Union Friday afternoon.(Photo: Mandie Trimble, WOSU News Reporter)
Ohio State's newly-named president received a welcoming from students at Ohio Union Friday afternoon.(Photo: Mandie Trimble, WOSU News Reporter)

Ohio State’s newly-named president Michael Drake was formally welcomed today by students and staff at the Ohio Union. As WOSU reports, Drake got a lesson from students on how to be a Buckeye.

Lining the stairs in the Ohio Union lobby, the Ohio State Marching Band played the school’s fight song as Dr. Michael Drake and his wife, Brenda, were welcomed with hearty cheers from faculty, staff and students who held fans that said “15th President.”

Drake briefly addressed the crowd with personal memories. He recalled his mother’s childhood home in Youngstown and noted he met his wife while they were college students.

“This was our 37th year of newlywed bliss, from the work that we’ve been doing together, how important it is to have a partner. These are really two-person jobs,” Drake said. “And I want to make sure you hear me acknowledge how critically important she is to all that I’ve done, and all that we’re thinking of doing together in this wonderful community.”

Several students including Suraj Hinduja offered the Drakes welcome gifts. Hinduja presented Dr. Drake with a lantern, a significant symbol at Ohio State.

“This very building we are standing in today was built upon the site of an Underground Railroad path. To commemorate this important history, part of the student life’s Ohio Union was built in the shape of a lantern. And it’s top floor is constantly lit to signify this is a community that is open to all,” Hinduja said. “We hope that as you look at this lantern you realize that you are home.”

The Drakes also received books on how to be good Buckeyes, Longaberger gift baskets, artwork and gift bags from the school’s mascot, Brutus Buckeye.

“Brutus bags. Brutus seems a little eager to open them up. Brutus got you mini Brutus toys,” the emcee noted.

Junior Janel Young attended the welcoming ceremony. Young says she hopes for a different kind of leader from Drake.

“Dr. Gee was pretty fun. But we need someone that’s focused, someone who’s really trying to make a change in this community. Of course, there was a lot of different controversies and things going on,” she said.

“But aside from that, I just think there are a lot of great things that can take place on campus. And I think that this new look, new face, new personality, new person in general, I think that will be a great change for this university. And so I’m actually pretty excited.”

Senior Sam Wildman also stopped in to hear Drake address students for the first time. He hopes Drake will interact with students.

“I just hope that he’s able to relate with students and be personal with the. You know, Dr. Gee gave up so much of his time for the students, and every decision it seemed like he made he consulted with students…And I just hope that can live on at Ohio State,” Wildman said.

Drake is known for engaging students at University of California Irvine where he currently is chancellor. And Drake appears open to continuing to interact with students. Prior to the Ohio Union welcoming event, he hosted a private lunch with selected OSU students. He later obliged the crowd by participating with a Buckeye tradition of locking arms and singing Carmen Ohio.

Drake’s first day at Ohio State is set for June 30th.

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