President Michael Drake talks to the media and members of the OSU community June 30. Credit: Mark Batke / Photo editor

President Michael Drake talks to the media and members of the OSU community June 30.
Credit: Mark Batke / Photo editor

In his first day as Ohio State’s president, Dr. Michael Drake said he plans to prioritize excellence, opportunities, and the university’s relationship with the community during the beginning of his presidency.

“(Our) priorities are to focus on the things that got us here,” Drake said in a meet-and-greet held for him Monday morning at Bricker Hall. “This is a wonderful university with a great impact over many, many decades.”

Former OSU interim president Joseph Alutto and other prominent members of the OSU community, in addition to various media outlets, welcomed the university’s 15th and first black president as he arrived for his first day on the job.

During the reception, Alutto told The Lantern Drake will offer an emphasis that OSU has perhaps not seen before with past presidents, given his medical science background and passion for students, faculty and staff.

Drake told The Lantern he looks forward to continuing to work one-on-one with students at OSU in an effort to make students’ voices heard during university decision-making.

“The student voice is critical,” Drake said. “One of the things that attracted me to this career is the ability to work with students and teaching, so I hope to continue to do that.”

Before coming to OSU, Drake was chancellor of University of California Irvine, which like OSU, has a large medical center.

Drake is set to earn an annual base salary of $800,000 during his five-year term and is also eligible for a $200,000 bonus each year alongside an annual credit of $200,000 under a deferred compensation agreement.

Drake’s contract also includes stipulations such as research funding, housing and an automobile stipend.

Drake’s presidency follows that of E. Gordon Gee, who retired nearly a year ago.

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.

Following Gee’s retirement, OSU spent nearly $610,000 in its search to find its new president.

Over the course of a six-month search, OSU paid a private search firm a fixed fee of $200,000, — as well as about $200,000 for direct out-of-pocket expenses and $20,000 for administrative costs — for assistance with recruiting the new president.