Ohio governor praises choice of California educator as Ohio State University's new president


COLUMBUS — Ohio Gov. John Kasich on Thursday praised the selection of a California educator as the next president of Ohio State University.

Kasich said he had spoken briefly with Michael Drake, chancellor of the University of California at Irvine, and said he’ll do fine in the position.

“I’ll have a good relationship with Dr. Drake,” Kasich said at an annual legislative preview forum hosted by The Associated Press. He joked that he has tried to raise Ohio temperatures to prepare for Drake’s arrival.

Kasich said he expects Drake, who is an ophthalmology professor, to focus attention on the Ohio State’s medical center because it’s such a big part of the university.

The university has not announced Drake’s selection as president. Ohio State spokesman Gary Lewis declined comment Thursday.

Earlier in the day Ohio State announced a portion of the university’s afternoon trustee meeting would be streamed online, and a news conference was scheduled for 5 p.m. on campus.

The University of California at Irvine did not immediately comment.

Drake will replace former president Gordon Gee, who retired in July after remarks he made jabbing Roman Catholics and Southeastern Conference schools were made public. Gee is now serving as interim president at West Virginia University.

Drake will lead one of the nation’s largest public universities, which comes with a national profile in both academics and sports.

An Ohio State search committee had said that it was looking for someone with a record of significant fundraising and that an understanding of an academic medical center and top NCAA athletic programs would be desirable.

The presidential search was on track to cost more than $300,000. About a third of that is expenses for a one-day forum on the state of the college presidency. More than $200,000 was being paid to a head-hunting firm.

In addition to its undergraduate academic programs, medical school and hospital, and high-profile sports teams, Ohio State also has professional schools for business, law and pharmacy, among many others.