Ohio State’s Drake officially departs presidency

By Jennifer Smola - The Columbus Dispatch (TNS)

Outgoing Ohio State University President Michael V. Drake said farewell to the campus community Tuesday, his last official day in the leadership role.

Starting Wednesday, Drake steps into a post-presidency role at the university, which will run through June 30 of next year.

“It’s been a true thrill and privilege to lead the university to its 150th year,” Drake said in a video to the OSU community late Tuesday afternoon. “There’s no other university with the scope and impact of the Ohio State University.”

“Even with the many challenges that we face as a society today, I couldn’t be more excited or more proud about where we are as an institution and where we’re going,” said Drake, 69.

As today is my final day as president of @OhioState, I would like to share my gratitude with Buckeye Nation. pic.twitter.com/VX26BegqU3

— Michael V. Drake (@OSUPrezDrake) June 30, 2020 Drake also welcomed incoming president Kristina M. Johnson, calling her an “exceptional leader.”

Johnson, current chancellor of the State University of New York, will begin as Ohio State’s 16th president on Sept. 1.

In the interim, Ohio State’s board of trustees approved a resolution that named executive vice president and provost Bruce McPheron responsible for the administration of the academic operations of the university. Dr. Harold Paz, the executive vice president and chancellor for health affairs and chief executive officer of the Wexner Medical Center was named responsible for the administration of the medical center enterprise and seven health sciences colleges. Both arrangements begin Wednesday and run through Aug. 31.

In Drake’s next role, he will serve at the direction of Johnson and OSU’s board of trustees. Duties will include continuing to work as a national leader and to provide advice on higher education issues, providing strategic advice as requested by the president, and advocating on higher education policy issues and furthering Ohio State’s land-grant mission, according to his employment agreement.

Drake will maintain his current salary of nearly $892,000 until next summer, when he will serve as a distinguished university professor and will be paid a monthly salary of nearly $67,000 for up to nine months per year, totaling up to $600,000 per year. That portion of his contract will run through June 30, 2024.

In November, Drake announced his intention to retire, saying the time was right for both his family and the university. He has served as president since June 2014.

Under Drake’s leadership, Ohio State broke its records for graduation and retention rates, academic talent and diversity among incoming classes, research expenditures, and annual fundraising. He made “access and affordability” a focus of his presidency, implementing the first comprehensive tuition freeze for in-state students in 40 years, and budgeting more than $150 million in additional need-based aid to students.

The university also saw its share of high-profile controversies throughout Drake’s tenure, beginning with an investigation into a “sexualized culture within the marching band,” which Drake inherited upon his arrival.

In 2018, an investigation into sexual abuse by deceased OSU physician Dr. Richard Strauss brought scandal over the assaults on hundreds and lawsuits followed.

Then came the probe into former head football coach Urban Meyer and his handling of domestic violence allegations against former assistant coach Zach Smith. That resulted in a three-game suspension of Meyer and the resignation of a board member over what he felt was too light of a punishment.

Drake previously said university leaders “followed our principles and or values,” in the handling of those matters.

The outgoing president previously referred to the last months of his presidency as a victory lap of sorts, but those months were upended by the coronavirus pandemic.

“We share our very best wishes and gratitude with all of you,” Drake said on behalf of himself and his wife, Brenda, in Tuesday’s video.

He signed off as president with one last “Go Bucks.”


By Jennifer Smola

The Columbus Dispatch (TNS)

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