07:16 AM

Michael V. Drake announces presidential transition

Ohio State’s 15th president to retire from his current role in 2020

Michael V. Drake, MD, who has served as president of The Ohio State University since June 2014, has announced that he will retire from the role next year.

Drake’s career in higher education spans four decades, including the last 15 as a university president or chancellor. He said the timing is right for Ohio State and his family.

“Ohio State is a very special place. Brenda and I are blessed to be part of the incredible Buckeye community,” said Drake, 69. “The work being done at this university through teaching, learning, research, creative expression, community engagement and leading-edge partnerships is unprecedented in our 150-year history.

“Ohio State has enjoyed record successes in several of our most important strategic markers and has tremendous momentum. It was important to Brenda and me that the university be accelerating on a path forward as we decided to begin the transition.”

Board of Trustees Chairman Gary R. Heminger agreed, saying: “The university has never been stronger, and there couldn’t be a better time to position a new leader for success.”

Under Drake’s leadership, the university has seen all-time highs in several important areas, including: applications, the academic preparedness and diversity of five consecutive incoming classes to the Columbus campus, retention rates, research expenditures and industry-sponsored research, graduation rates, total number of graduates, patient care and support from donors. Ohio State’s performance in these categories is the best in the university’s history and among the strongest in the nation.

The university will launch a national search for its next president, and trustee Lewis Von Thaer will serve as chair of the search committee.

Drake said he has always envisioned that the university would begin a search while he still served as president in order to provide continuity in leadership. The trustees are aligned with that position as well. Drake will lead the university through at least the end of the academic year.

Drake will remain on the Ohio State faculty. Teaching and learning represent pillar one of Ohio State’s strategic plan, launched under Drake’s leadership in August 2017. The University Institute for Teaching and Learning, created to further advance teaching at Ohio State and improve the student experience, is unique nationally for implementing a research-based survey instrument on effective practices across the institution.

Another area of intense focus has been increasing access to an affordable and excellent Ohio State education.

Under Drake, Ohio State implemented its first comprehensive tuition freeze for in-state students in 40 years. The university also launched the Ohio State Tuition Guarantee, which locks in-state tuition, mandatory fees, housing and dining for each incoming class of undergraduate students. The university has committed more than $150 million in additional need-based aid since 2015, exceeding its goal to reach $100 million by 2020 and benefiting tens of thousands of Buckeyes. Fewer students are graduating with debt, and those with debt have less of it.

This additional aid has funded several programs designed to make college more affordable for students from low- and moderate-income backgrounds. The Buckeye Opportunity Program, for example, provides full tuition and mandatory fee coverage to thousands of Ohio Pell students in Columbus and at all of the university’s regional locations. The inclusion of regional campuses in the program is notable in higher education for a school of Ohio State’s size.

“We have always said that while talent is distributed across zip codes, opportunity is not,” Drake said. “It is critical that we balance access, affordability and excellence for all.”

Funding for these programs has been aided by the innovative revenue generation and administrative efficiencies programs launched at Drake’s presidential investiture in 2015. The goal was to reach $200 million in revenue generation and an additional $200 million in efficiencies by 2020. The university has far surpassed its efficiencies goal and its revenue generation goal with the Comprehensive Energy Management Project, the first of its kind nationally.

The partnership will improve energy efficiency on the Columbus campus by 25% in the next several years. It represents the largest single investment in the university’s academic mission and includes an energy advancement and innovation center — part of a planned West Campus innovation district and the university’s long-term planning vision for the physical campus, Framework 2.0.

The university’s medical enterprise, including the Wexner Medical Center and health sciences colleges, has set high marks for patient care, safety and satisfaction as well as research funding to drive breakthrough health care solutions. 

Drake has helped to elevate Ohio State’s national role in higher education with an unprecedented sequence of leadership positions. He served as chair of the Board of Directors of the Association of American Universities from 2017 to 2018. In 2018, he became the first Ohio State president in nearly four decades to serve as chair of the Board of Directors for the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, the oldest higher education association in North America. And in 2019, Drake was elected chair of the Board of Governors of the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

Drake played a central role in the establishment of the American Talent Initiative, a partnership with the Aspen Institute, Bloomberg Philanthropies and Ithaka S+R to increase the enrollment and graduation of middle- and lower-income students at the nation’s top colleges and universities. He was part of a three-person organizing committee that recruited the initiative’s 30 founding member schools. The number of participating institutions has grown to 128 in less than three years.

Since 2015, the university has had a 19% increase in new first-year Pell students. This is part of the American Talent Initiative’s goal to increase by 50,000 the enrollment of Pell students at member institutions nationally by 2025.

Ohio State is also a founding member of the University Innovation Alliance, composed of 11 public research institutions working to make degrees more accessible to lower-income and first-generation students. Drake serves on the executive board.

Last month, the university announced Time and Change: The Ohio State Campaign, which strives to engage 1 million supporters, an unprecedented level in higher education. This follows several record donor totals during Drake’s tenure. Since the start of fiscal year 2015, Ohio State has raised nearly $2.8 billion.

“Our goal when we came to Columbus was to see The Ohio State University rise in impact and influence among the nation’s leading research universities, to significantly improve student and faculty success and recognition, and to contribute further to our community in a way that makes us the exemplars of the 21st-century land-grant university,” Drake said. “It is great to see that happening.”

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