It has taken more than one-and-a-half century but the University of California, one of the most prestigious educational institutions in the world, will finally have an African-American president. Dr. Michael V Drake was appointed to take over that position after a unanimous decision by the Board of Regents.
He will succeed Janet Napolitano, herself a history maker by being the first female president of the university. She had announced her decision to leave the position last year and has expressed her confidence in Dr. Drake.
The students of the university had petitioned the authorities, requesting the appointment of someone as president who will be "a powerful advocate at the state and national level" for the cause of equality. With many institutions around the country trying to introduce racial diversity in their administration, UC also went in the same direction.
Background of Dr. Drake
A physician by training, Dr. Drake served as a professor of ophthalmology at the same institution that he will now lead. The 69-year old had previously been the Chancellor of the Irvine campus of UC from 2005 to 2014.
Currently, he is president of the Ohio State University, a position to which he was appointed in 2014. According to local media reports, Dr. Drake was responsible for making the university more friendly to students of weak financial status. This further boosted his credentials for the post of UC president.
Board of Regents Chairman John A Perez stated that UC administration feels confident that Dr. Drake is the perfect man for the job. "We wanted a new president who could both lead UC through these unprecedented times, and who could position the university to expand on its excellence in the years ahead."
The man himself assured everyone that he intends to do the needful, including trying to heal "the wounds of social injustice." "The UC is among the few institutions worldwide best equipped, really, to meet these challenges," the incoming president said in a statement to the board.
The University of California has 10 campuses across the state. Its stature as being a prime educational institution is intact but with the social upheaval over racial matters gripping the entire country, issues of racial equality will also be watched closely.