Home » Campus » Next Ohio State President Michael Drake to make about half of Gordon Gee’s annual payout

Next Ohio State President Michael Drake to make about half of Gordon Gee’s annual payout

University of California Irvine Chancellor Dr. Michael Drake at a press conference Jan. 30. OSU officials announced that day Drake is appointed to be the next OSU president. Credit: Ritika Shah / Asst. photo editor

University of California Irvine Chancellor Dr. Michael Drake at a press conference Jan. 30. OSU officials announced that day Drake is appointed to be the next OSU president.
Credit: Ritika Shah / Asst. photo editor

Ohio State’s next president, Dr. Michael Drake, is set to be paid an annual base salary of $800,000, but that is only part of a multifaceted compensation package that also includes research funding, housing and an automobile stipend. Drake’s deal does not match the money doled out to former President E. Gordon Gee, but is more than the amount being paid to Interim President Joseph Alutto as well as the new appointed leader of the University of Michigan.

According to Drake’s contract with OSU, he will also earn an annual credit of $200,00 under a deferred compensation agreement. During his agreed upon five-year term, Drake is also slated to be eligible for up to a 25 percent of his base compensation annual performance award for reaching “mutually agreed-upon performance targets and goals.”

An ophthalmologist by trade, Drake has been granted tenure in the OSU College of Medicine, Department of Ophthalmology and the College of Education and Human Ecology, however during his time as president, he will not receive any tenured employment compensation or be expected to perform “substantial” faculty duties.

Drake’s contract also says he will be provided with laboratory space in the College of Medicine and research funds up to $50,000 per year for as long as he is president, a term set to start June 30.

OSU made the announcement of its 15th president at a Board of Trustees meeting Thursday, where Drake was introduced for the first time before members of the OSU community.

“I am deeply honored by your nomination and your confidence you display in me,” Drake said. “The presidency of the Ohio State University is in many ways the premier position in higher education in the United States. This university is outstanding but its also a university that’s clearly on the move.”

Drake said OSU was “bold in its intention to inspire greatness in its faculty, its staff and its students” in his first speech as appointed president.

“The trajectory of Ohio State and the power of Ohio State are admired throughout the world of higher education,” he said.

Drake has served as the chancellor of University of California Irvine since 2005. Drake made an annual salary of $401,115 in that role, Ria Carlson, associate vice chancellor for strategic communications at UC Irvine, said in a Thursday email.

Undergraduate Student Government President Taylor Stepp, a fourth-year in public affairs, said OSU’s goal was to find a “dynamic leader with the right tools.”

“He was very successful for UC Irvine, and in order to attract top talent, we have to be competitive with our compensation,” Stepp said. “He certainly has the talent and the ability to fundraise and the skill set to afford that kind of compensation structure.”

Stepp was a member of the Presidential Search Advisory Subcommittee, but was not involved in contract negotiations, he said.

Drake is set to make roughly half of Gee’s $1.9 million before Gee stepped down as president in July. Gee announced his decision to retire from OSU days after controversial comments he made at a Dec. 5, 2012, OSU Athletic Council meeting came under public scrutiny. Remarks about Notre Dame and the Southeastern Conference in particular brought national attention.

The former two-time OSU president is currently serving as president at West Virginia University, taking an unpaid leave as president emeritus at OSU.

Alutto has a base salary of $625,000, about $70,000 more than what he made as provost and executive vice president before Gee’s retirement.

At the Thursday Board of Trustees meeting where the presidential announcement was made, Presidential Search Committee chairman Jeffrey Wadsworth cited Drake’s athletic experience as a reason why he would be a good fit for OSU.

“Athletics is important,” Wadsworth said. “He’s a member, one of 18, of the NCAA Board of Directors.”

The NCAA Board of Directors is the governing body for intercollegiate athletics.

Days before Drake was announced as the next OSU president, athletic director Gene Smith was named a vice president and given a nearly 12 percent pay increase and a four-year contract extension.

Set to report directly to the president, Smith’s base salary is to be $940,484, roughly $140,000 more than Drake’s, effective July 1, 2013.

Smith is slated to be eligible for “standard, university-wide merit based salary increases each year,” according to a Jan. 28 university release. Smith was paid about $840,484 in 2013, according to the Columbus Business First DataCenter, $40,000 more than Drake’s starting base salary.

Stepp said because the Department of Athletics is self-funded, it’s hard to compare it to the university as a whole.

“It’s always interesting to compare the financial structure of the main university and athletics. Obviously, it’s a very different world over there,” he said.

Stepp said Smith does a “fabulous job” and the prominence of OSU athletics warrants his compensation.

“Frankly, we just have to pay him top dollar, because that’s what we’re paying for, we’re paying for excellence and that’s what Gene Smith is bringing to the table for us,” Stepp said.

While OSU was searching for its next president, the University of Michigan was doing the same.

Michigan announced Jan. 24 its next president would be Dr. Mark S. Schlissel, who currently serves as provost at Brown University. Schlissel is set to succeed Mary Sue Coleman, who is stepping down after 12 years in the position.

Schlissel is set to start his five-year term July 1, and is slated to make a base salary of $750,000, which is subject to annual increase at the discretion of Michigan’s Board of Regents, and a retention incentive of $100,000 per year awarded at the end of his term, Michigan spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said.

Schlissel is set to receive “regular university benefits” and a $20,000 per year contribution to retirement plan. He will be given housing in the president’s house, an expense allowance and the use of an automobile and driver, Fitzgerald said.

Drake is also set to receive an automobile stipend of $1,200 per month and will be expected to live at the OSU presidential residence in Bexley.

While Drake won’t officially start at OSU for roughly five months, he said Thursday he is excited to get started.

“I am deeply humbled by this opportunity and am looking forward very much to joining the Buckeye family,” Drake said.


An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated Dr. Michael Drake was an optometrist, when in fact he is an ophthalmologist. 


  1. What a wonderful opportunity for the first African American president Dr. Drake and The Ohio State University as he takes the school to another level. My prayers are with him and the school.

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  5. Dear Pres. Drake,

    Most, if not all of the people in the Buckeye Nation sincerely hope you are renting a temporary residence. As a puppet under the control of the Board of Regents, your stay in our deeply seeded community will be brief, and could be even shorter if you would only man up. However in your culture, I’m sure you’re just glad to be employed, I assume. Let me explain that. At UC Irvine you had some controversy as president which made you THE perfect candidate for the OSU job . You convincingly dodged serious inquiries into your decisions. Bravo! However, we the people of the seemingly apathetic Mid West see things a lot more differently than those from the Left Coast. First of all, we believe integrity, honesty, transparency and ownership are the roots of our being. Unfortunately, sir, you have none of these basic human qualities. As a matter of fact, you are as welcomed in our Community as a roll of sandpaper in a diarrhea ward! You were railroaded into the Jon Waters firing which clearly gives us an undeniable look into your soul and your Earthly character. What more could we ask for in our State’s highest learning intuition? Sorry sir but that’s the way it is. It’s not your fault, but it’s YOUR fault for accepting the position! We’ll help you pack!

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