As UCI chancellor, Michael V. Drake oversaw the creation of the first new public law school in California in over 40 years and led the launch of programs in public health, pharmaceutical sciences and nursing science, as well as the formation of the School of Education. Mark Harmel

Irvine, Calif., July 7, 2020 — University of California, Irvine Chancellor Emeritus Michael V. Drake, M.D., who led the campus through an unparalleled era of growth, has been named president of the University of California system.

A longtime UC faculty member and administrator, Drake was selected for the system’s top leadership role by the UC regents. He will replace Janet Napolitano, who is retiring on Aug. 1. Drake served as UCI’s chancellor from 2005 to 2014 and was president of The Ohio State University until last month.

“The regents could not have made a finer choice than Michael Drake as the next president of the University of California,” said UCI Chancellor Howard Gillman. “As an academic physician, a system administrator and a university leader, he has served the people of this state with the utmost distinction, putting students first and promoting inclusive excellence. He has been an influential national leader on issues vital to the mission of research universities. I was very grateful when he recruited me to join the UCI community, and I am delighted that we have this opportunity to work together again.”

Then-Chancellor Michael V. Drake presents President Barack Obama with the UCI Medal during the university’s 2014 commencement, at which Obama spoke. Steve Zylius / UCI

Under Drake’s guidance, UCI grew from a regional university to one of global prominence. He saw applications for undergraduate admission jump by more than 90 percent and the four-year graduation rate increase by more than 18 percent. Over the last five years of his term, the number of undergraduates from underrepresented minorities rose by about 60 percent.

Drake oversaw the creation of the first new public law school in California in over 40 years and led the launch of programs in public health, pharmaceutical sciences and nursing science, as well as the formation of the School of Education.

Under his watch, UCI added more than 5 million square feet of new construction, including the nearly 500,000-square-foot UCI Douglas Hospital and the 275,000-square-foot Student Center. The campus also received nationwide acclaim for its environmental sustainability and, at the time, boasted 11 buildings that had earned LEED Platinum certification, the highest possible.

A champion of diversity and dialogue, Drake helped develop and launch the UCI School of Medicine’s innovative Program in Medical Education for the Latino Community, which aims to improve healthcare for Latinos. PRIME-LC remains the template for medical education programs focused on underserved communities. Drake also supported the student-led Olive Tree Initiative, which fosters understanding among those with differing views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

During his tenure, UCI rose from the mid-teens to one of the nation’s top 10 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 deemed by Times Higher Education in 2012 and again in 2013 the No. 1 university in the country – and the fifth worldwide – under 50 years old.

And in one of his last acts as UCI chancellor, Drake presented the UCI Medal to President Barack Obama before his memorable 2014 commencement address in front of 40,000 students, family members, faculty, staff and supporters at Angel Stadium of Anaheim.

Prior to becoming UCI’s fifth chancellor, Drake served the UC system for over 30 years in various positions, including as vice president of health affairs. In 2014, UC President Napolitano awarded him the UC Presidential Medal for his outstanding contributions. He and Brenda Drake in 2017 received the UCI Medal, the campus’s most prestigious honor.

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 36,000 students and offers 222 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

About the University of California: UC is a world-renowned system of 10 campuses, five medical centers, three nationally affiliated labs, more than 280,000 students and 230,000 faculty and staff.

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