Michael Drake took his oath of office in a ceremonial installation of his presidency at Mershon Auditorium in front of an audience that included John Glenn, former interim president Joseph Alutto, and dozens of university representatives and politicians from across the country.
On Tuesday, standing in front of a large sculpture of the Ohio State seal against a backdrop of scarlet and gray drapes, Drake gave his investiture address on the past that shaped his character and the future he envisions for OSU.
The address included talk of access and affordability.
“Students crossing the Oval with book bags filled with knowledge and promise should not be burdened with the weight of worry about how to pay for college,” Drake said.
In the marquee topic of his speech, Drake announced a five-year, $400 million plan that will redirect funds toward academics, innovations and need-based scholarships.
OSU plans to generate $200 million of that through administrative cost-cutting measures, with the other $200 million coming from new revenue generation, such as the privatization of university parking or contracts with companies like Huntington Bank and Coca-Cola.
“The first targeted use of these savings will be an immediate increase to the scholarship pool, particularly for lower- and middle-income students, by a minimum of $15 million in the 2015-16 academic year,” Drake said. “Our goal will be to increase scholarships by at least $100 million by 2020.”
Drake also announced plans to reassess administrative salaries to free up costs.
“We are looking carefully at executive compensation,” he said. “We recognize that we must balance the competitive salaries needed to attract exceptional faculty and staff with our commitment to be responsible stewards of resources.”
Drake’s speech touched upon the broader themes of OSU’s land-grant mission, community engagement and diversity.
Drake, OSU’s first black president, also noted recent “racial and other forms of discord and intolerance across our country,” which he described a “deeply troubling.”
“Our universities — of all places — must welcome and celebrate all individuals, regardless of race, class, culture, orientation or identity,” he said.
The ceremony was dominated by a number of formalities, including performances from OSU’s wind symphony. The group also performed an overture that School of Music professor Tom Wells wrote for the event.
Assistant professor of voice and mezzo-soprano Katherine Rohrer sang the “Star-Spangled Banner” to open the ceremony and “Carmen Ohio” to close it.
Board of Trustees Chairman Jeffrey Wadsworth acknowledged the presence of six Ohio college presidents and dozens of other representatives from national universities including Ivy League schools Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Columbia and Cornell. Representatives from Big Ten schools Michigan and Indiana were also in attendance.
Drake also received brief “greeting” speeches from different constituents of the community, including Archie Griffin, Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman and Ohio Board of Regents chancellor John Carey.