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President Michael Drake focuses on positives in 1st university address

OSU President Michael Drake addressing the University Senate on Oct. 30.  Credit: Franz Ross / Lantern TV Station manager

OSU President Michael Drake addressing the University Senate on Oct. 30.
Credit: Franz Ross / Lantern TV Station manager

Ohio State needs to place a greater focus on teaching, while continuing its goal of research eminence, President Michael Drake said in his first address to University Senate on Thursday.

The university is a “modern land-grant institution that’s also a doorway to the world,” he said. “We teach for Ohio, but we do research for the world.”

As examples of OSU’s worldwide presence, Drake noted the university’s Global Gateway offices around the world, such as the one in São Paolo that opened Sept. 13. 

Drake strayed from announcing anything bold for OSU’s future and he avoided taking up any controversial stances.

Instead, the president used the forum to highlight the university’s accomplishments, and laid out goals for the future to make the university competitive in a difficult higher education climate.

Drake gave an update on the status of the university’s Discovery Themes, a $400 million initiative that includes expanding research and bringing in 500 faculty over 10 years. Thirty-nine positions in more than 20 departments have been approved so far, Drake said.

The new president also highlighted the accomplishments of the expanding Wexner Medical Center, which now comprises roughly half of the university’s more than $5 billion budget.

The medical center was recently ranked third in the country by the University HealthSystem Consortium, behind the New York University Langone Medical Center and the Mayo Clinic Hospital in Rochester, Minn.

The latter hospital can “hear our footsteps as we come up behind them,” Drake said, hinting at hopes to pass up the Mayo Clinic in future years.

Drake also took time to praise the university’s staff, calling them “the stewards of the campus.” Staff acknowledgement became a vogue topic last year, after some raised concerns about the lack of representation of staff on the Presidential Search Committee and in University Senate.

For the president finishing up his fourth month at the university, it was one of his first high-profile live appearances, which took place in the Ohio Union U.S. Bank Conference Theatre. The venue, which seats 293, was set up to accommodate overflow seating outside and a live stream of the event to boot.

Videographers, reporters and public relations representatives filed in along with members of the university community to hear the first major speech from a president who’s faced his fair share of criticism in his brief tenure. It was a big change from the Interim President Joseph Alutto’s address last year, where the audience was comprised primarily of University Senate members.

Drake did, on occasion, mention concerns for American universities as a whole. Citing “funding constraints and rising costs,” Drake expressed concern that “the American Dream is leaving America,” especially as the U.S. is falling behind other countries in terms of number of college graduates.

With teleprompters in front of him and an ASL intrepreter by his side, Drake said the university is making progress to counter that trend, citing the work of university groups like Bell National Resource Center on the African-American Male and the Latino & Latin American Space for Enrichment and Research.

Despite state funding for higher education dropping 18 percent in the last five years, Drake also praised Gov. John Kasich for his pledge to address the cost of higher education if he wins Tuesday’s election.

Drake made no direct or passive remarks on the fallout from former marching band director Jonathan Waters’ firing. Waters was fired July 24 after a two-month OSU investigation into the band found a culture conducive to sexual harassment. It was determined Waters was aware or reasonably should have been aware of that culture and did not do enough to change it. The topic, which now has made Drake a defendant in a lawsuit by Waters, has been alluded to in each of his previous remarks to University Senate bodies. When he spoke at both previous Faculty Council and Senate meetings, Drake talked at length about need for the university to maintain its integrity.

He also talked about building “character excellence” in OSU students.

“One of the things that’s important to me is how we go about doing our business — our own personal values and how we exemplify those with our staff and our students and the examples we set for them,” Drake said at the Sept. 18 Faculty Council meeting, adding the need to teach “what it means to move forward in life in a way that is consistent, positive and constructive.

“We can never play a perfect round of golf, but we can all try to play a perfectly honest round of golf,” he said. “And it’s amazing how hard that is to do.”


  1. Occasional Golfer

    Drake’s golf analogy from Sept. 18th is telling. When I golf, I usually play with friends or new people I want to meet. Most of the time, we agree that it is not a tryout for the PGA. We tell jokes, nudge a bad lie, occasionally have a (gasp) beer, and applaud the well-placed cough when my friend is trying to line up his putt.

    At the end of the day, we have a good time and build a stronger bond together. Not because we “played an honest round of golf”, but because we had fun, got to know each other, and shared an experience.

    “Course Ranger” Drake seems to want to follow us around constantly to make sure nobody tells any jokes, which makes it difficult to take what he says seriously.

  2. It’s going to be hard for him to win any respect for his “positives” as long as the university refuses to reinstate Jon Waters. They made a mistake and instead of admitting it and making things right, they are trying to bully the guy in the courts. I can’t even read this guy’s address… I have a tough time supporting a self-righteous bully.

  3. Interesting that President Drake aspires to play a perfectly honest round of golf, when everything we read in the media suggest that Presidents Obama and Clinton play anything but “perfectly honest rounds of golf.” But hey, I do agree that OSU students should hope to achieve higher ethical standards than those two. Maybe Dr. Drake can lead us in that direction.

  4. I find Dr. Drake’s claim to be interested in perfect honesty incredulous while he pedals slut that would make Larry Flynn cringe to defame Jon Waters.

  5. Professor Curmudgeon

    Rick Stockum wrote: “I find Dr. Drake’s claim to be interested in perfect honesty incredulous while he pedals slut that would make Larry Flynn cringe…”

    Not to nitpick, but… Rick, you say that Dr. Drake’s claim to to be interested in honesty is “incredulous.” Sorry, but no. Though in recent years the word incredulous has been increasingly used as synonym of incredible, in proper usage it implies agency, hence only a person can be incredulous (skeptical, unwilling to believe). You may be incredulous about Drake’s claim, but the claim itself is best described as incredible or unbelievable, not incredulous.

    Next nit: “Slut” is a sexist pejorative term referring to a woman who in the speaker’s opinion enjoys an excessively great degree of sexual freedom. Pedaling (or pedalling if you prefer British spelling) is what you do when you ride in Pelotonia. So, Rick, you think that Dr. Drake dons a skimpy pair of bicycle shorts and rides around on ladies of ill repute? It’s quite an image … but I’m incredulous.

    Or perhaps you mean that he PEDDLES sluts? You mean, he sells them on the street? Now that WOULD be a scandal! But again, pardon my incredulity.

    Oh, I get it! You mean he peddles SMUT: written material or pictures meant to stimulate sexual desire. But wait–do you mean that his remarks on the Waters firing are not only figuratively obscene, but literally appeal to what the Supreme Court once called “prurient interest”? So, Dr. Drake is actually fostering a sexualized culture at OSU? Pardon me, but even Larry Flynt (correct spelling) would be incredulous about that one!

    You may view this as professorial nitpicking, but the fact is that wildly inaccurate use of language reflects poorly on the speaker and tends to weaken the force of the speaker’s argument. Whatever you may think of Dr. Drake’s actions or his words, you cannot successfully call him to account unless you are able to frame your argument in words that mark you as his intellectual equal.

  6. Professor Curmudgeon – hiding behind internet anonymity? Would think that one so gifted as you wouldn’t hide when posting to the student newspaper’s website. Or isn’t freedom of speech alive and well at tOSU?

    Anyone who listened to Dr. Drake’s rambling, ill-formed and inaccurate “discussion” with the TBDBITL’s squad leaders about the Jon Waters situation knows that when it comes to meeting his intellectual standard the bar is set frighteningly low.

  7. That’s Scott. You sure put the coward in his place.

  8. I’ll try that again. Thanks Scott, you sure put the coward in his place.


    Hello Knights and Gentlewomen,

    I consider myself a male feminist and disagree with Dr. Drake. He should reinstate Jon Waters. Because of our differences of opinions, he automatically is awful at his job and should be tried under a grand jury for violating section 96-2B of the intergalactic code.

    Thank you for your precious time.

    *tips fedora*

  10. Drake has done nothing to enhance the prestige of my alma mater.He is a hypocritical representative of Wadsworth,Steinmetz and the Board of Trustees.During his short tenure,he has damaged many people and the school.He personifies the arrogance and intellectual dishonesty of the present leadership team.The alumni and especially the student body deserve people we can trust and support for the common good of our beloved university.

  11. Don't Let Up Lantern

    Well stated, Ric Allwod!

  12. Don't Let Up Lantern

    To add: Wadsworth, Steinmetz and Drake are cut from the same bolt of fabric. They look down their noses at the people of Ohio. Take a hike all three of you. Please and hurry.

  13. Professor Curmudgeon

    Dear Scott and Rick,

    So, someone who posts anonymously is a coward? Hmmm… does that mean that Occasional Golfer, Moonbeaum Alumnus,and Don’t Let Up Lantern, who posted anonymously in this thread, are also cowards? It appears that you don’t apply the same term to them because they agree with your position. I’m sorry, but there is something rather suspect about such selective indignation.

  14. Pres. Drake gave a University snooze-fest Address. In three words: monotone, elitist, selective-promoting. Contrast that with this address given earlier this month (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GnnTz0WHt7w). Simply put, Drake doesn’t know what it means to be a Buckeye… We miss you, Bowtie.

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