Dr Micheal Drake was named as the 21st President of the University of California (UC) system recently, making him the first Black to hold the post in the over 150-year history of the institution.
He is due to succeed Janet Napolitano, the former Arizona governor, who became the university’s first female president in 2013.
Dr Drake, 69, was chosen unanimously by the UC Board of Regents after a rigorous 10-month search and selection process. The UC system is the third largest employer in the state of California – it has more than 285,000 students, and around 227,000 staff and faculty spread across 10 campuses, five medical centres, and three affiliated national laboratories.
He is due to take over the mantle at one of the largest public university systems in the United States at a time when universities are grappling with budget cuts, concerns of racial, cultural, and social diversity, and the COVID-19 outbreak.
Dr Drake has been associated with the University of California for more than three decades. He served as the University of California Irvine’s chancellor from 2005 to 2014 and as the system-wide vice-president for health affairs from 2000 to 2005. A doctor by training, he has also served as a faculty member and a health administrator with the university. Also, he led The Ohio State University before retiring from that job last month.
Before beginning a career in academia, he received a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University and a medical degree in ophthalmology from UC San Francisco.
“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,” Dr Drake said in a statement. “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,” he added.