Brenda and Michael Drake, shown here, “ensured that UCI would become one of the country’s leading public research universities as well as a leading engine of upward mobility,” says current Chancellor Howard Gillman. Kevin Fitzsimons / The Ohio State University

Irvine, Calif., March 6, 2017 — Michael V. Drake, M.D., chancellor emeritus of the University of California, Irvine, and Brenda Drake, Esq., have been selected to receive the campus’s most prestigious honor, the UCI Medal, at the Lauds & Laurels celebration on March 30. The university’s oldest awards ceremony, Lauds & Laurels is a tradition that has recognized more than 800 members of the UCI family for their contributions to the university, the community or their professions.

“The Drakes truly embody the University of California’s mission of teaching, research and public service, and their transformational legacy at UCI continues to be seen today,” said current Chancellor Howard Gillman. “Brenda and Michael’s commitment to academic excellence, diversity and opportunity is renowned, and together as a team they ensured that UCI would become one of the country’s leading public research universities as well as a leading engine of upward mobility.”

Michael Drake has been a leader in higher education for nearly four decades, serving as chancellor at UCI before becoming president of The Ohio State University. Under Drake’s leadership from 2005 to 2014, the number of undergraduate applicants nearly doubled and the four-year graduation rate increased by more than 18 percent. Also during this period, the university added schools of law and education and programs in public health, pharmaceutical sciences and nursing science, all of which have had far-reaching impacts in the community.

In addition, during his tenure, UCI rose from the mid-teens to one of the top 10 national public universities in U.S. News & World Report‘s annual rankings. In addition to claiming the top spot on Sierra magazine’s list of the “Coolest Schools” for improving energy efficiency and sustainability, UCI was ranked by Times Higher Education in 2012 and again in 2013 as the No. 1 university in the U.S. – and the fifth worldwide – under 50 years old.

Prior to becoming UCI’s fifth chancellor, Drake served the University of California system for over 30 years in various positions, including vice president for health affairs. In 2014, UC President Janet Napolitano awarded him the UC Presidential Medal for his outstanding contributions.

Originally from Berkeley, Brenda Drake has worked as a lawyer, foundation executive, community activist and university ambassador in both California and Ohio.

Devoted to advancing higher education, she is a strong partner with her husband in promoting access, affordability and excellence. During her husband’s tenure as UCI chancellor, she was active in events and initiatives on behalf of the university at the local, regional and national level. She was routinely on campus, engaging with students, faculty, staff and donors, and she hosted a variety of constituents at the university residence.

Brenda Drake has served as a director or trustee of organizations focused on education, international health, finance, civil rights and the arts, including the National Urban League, City Arts & Lectures in San Francisco, San Francisco University High School and Golden Gate Bank. She is a director emerita and former board chair of EngenderHealth Inc., an international women’s health organization, and is currently on the board of the Wexner Center Foundation and Legal Aid Society of Columbus.

“The Drakes have profoundly enriched the campus and impacted the lives of countless alumni, students, faculty and staff,” said UCI Foundation Chair Emile Haddad. “We are delighted that their longstanding support will be recognized at this time-honored tradition at UCI.”

This year, the university will combine the Medal Awards with the Lauds & Laurels ceremony. The annual Medal was first awarded in 1984 to UCI founding Chancellor Daniel G. Aldrich Jr. by then-Chancellor Jack W. Peltason. Subsequent honorees have included President Barack Obama, Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize winners, authors, inventors, captains of industry, scientists and pioneers in virtually every field of endeavor. Lauds & Laurels began in 1971.

In addition to paying tribute to Michael and Brenda Drake at the March 30 event, UCI will recognize the exemplary service of Gary Singer ’74, who will receive the Lauds & Laurels Extraordinarius award, the highest alumni honor. Singer is among 19 prominent alumni set to be feted.

This year’s celebration will be held at a secret location on campus showcasing one of UCI’s new, state-of-the-art buildings. Themed “The Distinguished Anteater Dining Society,” the evening will start with signature cocktails, followed by food and wine pairings inspired by notable alumni.

Table sponsorships and individual tickets are on sale now. Net proceeds from the event support the UCI Alumni Association Endowed Scholarship Fund. For sponsorship opportunities, contact Paul Phootrakul, the association’s director of business development, at 949-824-4575.

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 30,000 students and offers 192 degree programs. It’s located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $5 billion annually to the local economy. For more on UCI, visit

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