CALIFORNIA—On Tuesday, July 7, the University of California (UC) Board of Regents named Michael V. Drake, 69, the 21st president of the $37 billion University of California system. Drake, the first Black leader in the system’s 152 year history, will replace Janet Napolitano, who is retiring. He will be in charge of the 10 collegiate campuses, five medical centers, and three national laboratories that make up the public research university system. Napolitano has served as president since 2013, after becoming the first woman appointed to the position.

Drake recently served as the President of Ohio State University. He earned his medical degree from UCSF and was president of UC Irvine from 2005-2014. His new appointment reflects the growing diversity of the UC system, in which the majority of the 280,000 students are non-white.

“Michael Drake is a spectacular choice for the University of California,” Ted Mitchell, President of the American Council on Education told the Los Angeles Times. They represent more than 1,700 colleges and universities. “He has proven himself to be a visionary and effective leader in every role he’s taken on, from the University of California to Ohio State to national roles in leading associations, including the NCAA.”

“Much has changed in the 15 years since I was given the privilege of becoming chancellor at UC Irvine, but not my absolute belief in this great University and its time-honored mission,” said Drake. “I look forward to working with the regents, chancellors, students, faculty, staff, alumni, and our broader community as we, together, guide the University through the challenging times ahead. Brenda and I are thrilled to be back. Fiat Lux!”

Drake’s appointment comes at a time when the UC system is in upheaval and financial chaos due to the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic. Students have not gathered in person for classes since winter, and the state budget includes a $300.8 million (8.1%) decrease for the UC system. 

He will begin his new position in August with a salary at $890,000. Pending an academic personnel review, Drake will be appointed as a tenured professor at UCSF.

Written By Ben Wiley and Donald Roberts