02:28 AM

Award honors Brenda Drake and Ohio State President Michael V. Drake for commitment to education, service

For nine years, Brenda Drake awarded the University of California, Irvine (UCI) Medal — the university’s most prestigious honor — with her husband, Michael V. Drake. This year, she joined him in receiving the award.

Medals are awarded throughout the University of California system, with past honorees ranging from U.S. presidents to the “First Lady of Song,” Ella Fitzgerald. Medal awardees specific to UCI include Barack Obama, Nobel Prize laureate F. Sherwood Rowland, as well as Pulitzer Prize winners, authors and inventors.

“We've given the award out over many years to people who have been very supportive of the campus,” Ohio State University Ambassador Brenda Drake said. “So when I learned we were receiving this honor, it felt wonderful to be acknowledged.”

Before joining Ohio State, President Drake served as chancellor at UCI from 2005 to 2014 — a period in which undergraduate applications nearly doubled, the four-year graduation rate increased more than 18 percent and the university rose from the mid-teens to one of the top-10 national public universities in U.S. News & World Report.

The UCI Medal honors Drake’s leadership as chancellor and Brenda Drake’s service to the community during the pair’s time there.

"This recognition has given me the chance to reflect on our time at UCI and the impact that so many people made to keep the university on a great trajectory of growth," Drake said. "I am especially happy that Brenda and I both won the award – that our work together was recognized.”

Brenda Drake has served as a leader in organizations such as the National Urban League and San Francisco University High School. She is an attorney and foundation executive — with a keen interest in the arts. One of her favorite community engagement projects at UCI was hosting concerts or recitals at the president’s residence. Students would perform the concerts and she would invite staff from across the campus community to take in the performance.

At Ohio State, the Drakes continue to welcome students and the community to the university residence where they live — and Brenda Drake continues to support the arts. She serves on the Wexner Center Foundation at the internationally recognized Wexner Center for the Arts.

In her nine years at UCI, Brenda Drake was also a lecturer and speaker to student groups and organizations. She also continues this approach at Ohio State.

“I enjoy being involved in campus activity and enjoy being involved in the community,” she said. “What I have found at Ohio State is a community that really welcomes involvement.”

UCI leadership said that commitment to community is why the Drakes were awarded the medal.

“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,” said current Chancellor Howard Gillman.