I am delighted to share the news that the stretch of Bison Avenue beginning at the intersection of California Avenue and ending at Ring Road, near the center of campus, has been renamed Michael Drake Drive in honor of this campus’s fifth chancellor, Michael V. Drake, M.D., the current president of the University of California. Michael Drake Drive is the southern entrance to UCI and the route from the 73 freeway onto campus.
During his tenure as our chancellor from 2005 to 2014, Dr. Drake led the transformation of UCI from a fine regional university to a nationally and globally prominent leader in higher education. Under his dynamic leadership, applications for undergraduate admission increased by more than 90 percent and the four-year graduation rate increased by more than 18 percent. Championing diversity and access, in the last five years of his tenure the number of undergraduates from underrepresented minorities rose by 60 percent, with a similarly dramatic increase in the number of Pell Grant-eligible students.
Dr. Drake oversaw the creation of the first new public law school in California in 40 years, as well as the formation of the School of Education and the launch of the Program in Public Health and what are now the School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences and the Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing. And despite the most severe funding crisis in the campus’s history, under his watch UCI added more than 5 million square feet of new construction, including the acclaimed UCI Douglas Hospital at the medical center in Orange and the long-needed student center in the heart of the campus.
Dr. Drake’s leadership was reflected in UCI’s rise from the mid-teens to one of the nation’s top 10 public universities in U.S. News & World Report’s annual rankings and as the top university in the nation under 50 in 2012, 2013, and 2014 by Times Higher Education, an unmatched run that ended only because in 2015 UCI was no longer under 50.
Dr. Drake played not just a pivotal role, but the pivotal role in ensuring UCI’s ascendency among leading universities in a way that underscored the vital importance both of academic excellence and of access and equity for all. He has left an enduring legacy. It is especially fitting that this legacy be marked by the naming of a road, for Dr. Drake has often described education as the road to a better life.
Dr. Drake received this UCI honor on June 4. With this recognition, UCI continues its tradition of naming campus locations after its former top leaders. Dr. Drake joins former UCI Chancellors Daniel Aldrich, Jack Peltason, Laurel Wilkening and Ralph Cicerone in having a campus locale bear his name.
Chancellor Howard Gillman