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Legends and legacies

October 12, 2016

Drakes recognized for leadership excellence and community commitment with award from Columbus's King Arts Complex.

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As recipients of the King Arts Complex’s 10th Annual Legends & Legacies Award, Ohio State President Michael V. Drake and Brenda J. Drake were recognized for a combined legacy of service that extends around the nation and across more than 40 years. 

Previous award recipients include Maya Angelou, Harry Belafonte, the Tuskegee Airmen and former Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman.

Ohio State Board of Trustees Chair Alex Shumate said the Drakes have imbued the university with new energy.

“They brought a fresh vision to the land-grant mission,” Shumate said. “They are working diligently to make sure that the university is affordable and accessible and inclusive to all people. Their leadership has been outstanding.” 

Drake’s leadership in higher education, particularly in the areas of access, affordability and inclusive excellence, is respected across the nation. He is a prominent member of multiple national higher education groups, including the Association of American Universities, Association of Public Land-grant Universities, University Innovation Alliance and National Collegiate Athletic Association. 

Access, affordability and excellence are also key elements of Drake’s plan for Ohio State, which he articulated in his 2020 Vision investiture address last year.

During a recent speech at the Columbus Metropolitan Club, he reiterated his goal of identifying $200 million in efficiencies and $200 million in new, innovative funding methods by 2020 to lower costs and improve the value of an Ohio State education. This includes $100 million in need-based aid for low- and middle-income students.

Ohio State student Zaire Sims visited with Drake this summer during an affordability summit in Cincinnati, which was an integral part of the president’s annual State Tour. She said she feels a personal connection to his goals. “I’m a first-generation student,” she said, “and it was very exciting to be able to share my story with the president.”

While the Drakes’ work at Ohio State has been substantial, they are also deeply invested in the Columbus community. Guided by Dr. Drake’s leadership, Ohio State played an active role in helping the city win the Smart City Challenge, which will make Columbus a hotspot for mobility innovation.

“Dr. Drake has been instrumental in our work in helping to land the Smart City Challenge grant,” said Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther. “Ohio State was a critical partner … and will be very important as we move forward with implementation.” 

Brenda Drake has also been lauded for her active leadership and community commitment. She meets regularly with students, faculty, staff and community leaders and actively engages in the work of the university. Dr. Lillian Lowery, president and CEO of Columbus-based education nonprofit FutureReady Columbus, said: “She makes me so proud when I see her as the first lady beside Dr. Drake at The Ohio State University. What a role model she is!”