OSU's 15th President Begins Official First Day - WNCN: News, Weather

OSU's 15th President Begins Official First Day

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COLUMBUS, Ohio - Monday marked the first official day on the job for the 15th president of The Ohio State University.

Staff welcomed Dr. Michael Drake to Bricker Hall Monday morning, followed by a reception.

Drake is expected to place a major focus on college costs for students and strengthening the university's relationship with the community.

He said his life has been focused on both healthcare and education, which are two areas he feels are under great stress.

"This is the first day of school for me and so I've always been excited those first days to get to meet the people who are part of the institution. Students are great to meet on the first day. They'll be a big part of the tour and families will be with them. I also really like meeting staff, the people that we tend to walk by without noticing, they're the ones who are the backbone of the institution. The places that I've been before, I've meet people at the very beginning who I then have known for decades afterwards," said Drake at the welcome ceremony.

Drake told those in attendance he was looking forward to his new job at what he called an "iconic university."

MORE: How Does New OSU President Drake Compare To Gee?
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Ohio State Presidential Profile

Drake said college affordability has long been a priority and it's something he's likely to hear a lot about.

"Education, I believe, should be available for everyone, and it's really difficult right now for kids, especially our age, to afford college, so I think lowering tuition prices around the country, but especially at Ohio State, would be great," said Julia Wilkins, an Ohio State graduate.

For now, Drake will work on getting to know people, and immersing himself in the culture.

"Just the size and capacity of The Ohio State University and the Buckeye passion that exists – that will take him a little bit of time to get to know," said OSU Director of Athletics Gene Smith.

Drake was previously the chancellor of the University of California Irvine, a position he held since 2005. UCI is approximately half the size of OSU.

The search committee, comprised of members of The Ohio State University Board of Trustees and student leaders, spent approximately $250,000 on the search for a new president. The believe Drake is a good fit for the largest university in the country.

Drake is an ophthalmologist. He earned his undergrad degree from Stanford, and received his M.D. from University of California, San Francisco.

Drake’s most notable achievements include overseeing the creation of the university's new public law school, the first new public law school in California in more than 40 years, and the UC Irvine School of Education was also established under his leadership. He also led the launch of new programs in public health, pharmaceutical science and nursing science.

The 64-year-old will earn $1 million a year as president of the university.

Before he was chancellor at Irvine, Drake served as vice president for health affairs for the University of California system (2000–2005), overseeing academic program policy for the system’s 15 health science schools. He directed the special research programs in tobacco, breast cancer and HIV/AIDS; co-chaired the California/Mexico Health Initiative; launched the PRIME (Program In Medical Education) initiative to train physicians to care for underserved populations statewide; and founded the California Health Benefits Review Program. Prior to that, he spent more than 20 years on the faculty of the UC San Francisco School of Medicine, ultimately becoming the Steven P. Shearing Professor of Ophthalmology and senior associate dean.

Drake’s wife, Brenda, holds degrees from Stanford (A.B.) and UC Berkeley (J.D.), is an attorney and community leader. She has led several foundations and nonprofit agencies, serving as either a trustee or executive director.

The couple has two adult sons.

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