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President Michael Drake looks to connect with students; talks about music, rapper Drake

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Ohio State President Michael Drake sat down with The Lantern staff at an editorial meeting on Jan. 26. Credit: Jon McAllister / Asst. photo editor

Ohio State President Michael Drake sat down with The Lantern staff at an editorial meeting on Jan. 26. Credit: Jon McAllister / Asst. photo editor

Ohio State President Michael Drake said he’s been busy picking up the reins as the leader of Ohio State since he took over in July.

“What I look forward to in 2015 is more time with students and faculty,” Drake said in a Monday interview with The Lantern. “I noticed that I missed the level of contact that I had been used to having with (them).”

In addition to sharing his thoughts on issues facing higher education and OSU’s large student population, Drake also answered questions about topics like former OSU Marching Band director Jon Waters’ firing, the football team winning the National Championship and what he thinks about the rapper Drake.

Jon Waters

When asked about the firing of former OSU Marching Band director Jon Waters, Drake said he was unable to comment because a lawsuit is in litigation.

Waters is suing the university for a minimum of $1 million in compensatory damages, in addition to seeking punitive damages, attorney fees and reinstatement. His suit — which is against Drake and Provost and Executive Vice President Joseph Steinmetz — says he was fired without due process and that he was discriminated against on the basis of gender.

Waters was fired July 24, less than a month after Drake’s June 30 start date, after an OSU investigation found the band contained an entrenched sexualized culture.

Drake said he wasn’t expecting this situation.

“It was an unpleasant surprise,” he said.

Waters reapplied for his former position, submitting a four and a half page application to OSU for a tenure-track band director position.

The university is currently searching for a new director, and has said it plans to select a leader by February.

2015 College Football Playoff National Championship

Drake said one of his attractions to OSU was the high quality of the athletic program.

He spoke briefly about his family’s background in sports, and mentioned his father’s 1934 national football championship and his son’s national championship cross-country team, before discussing OSU’s 42-20 victory over Oregon in Arlington, Texas, on Jan. 12.

“They did a really great job of focusing and achieved at a level higher than they expected,” Drake said about the OSU football team.

The president said he chose not to cancel classes the day of the National Championship because he trusted students to make the right decision about whether they could afford to miss a class.

The National Championship game fell on the first day of Spring Semester, which meant many students who planned on attending the game would have had to miss at least the first day of classes. According to University Faculty Rules, students who missed classes during the first week could have been disenrolled from those courses and their seat given to another student on the waitlist.

Drake said, depending on what was happening in his life, in certain circumstances, he might have considered skipping to attend the game as well.

“You have to make those kinds of decisions,” he said. “There were times in my career where I would have found it to be the kind of thing I would have loved to do, and there were times when I wouldn’t, and we were hoping for the same level of judgment (from students).”

Drake also talked about the impact the victory will have on the university in the future.

“The effect I would expect would be on recruiting for the football program,” he said. “The very best players want to be in the very best programs. We have a truly outstanding head coach, a wonderful coaching staff and the most supportive fans in the country,”

Meanwhile, shortly after the National Championship game ended, students crowded campus — including Mirror Lake and High Street, particularly in front of the Ohio Union — to celebrate OSU’s victory.

Officers from the Columbus Division of Police and a SWAT team wore gas masks and stood by to keep order as students and fans rushed through the street. Tear gas was deployed during the post-game celebration.

“An unfortunate and too oft repeated result of great success is people who are compromised in their thinking choose to celebrate in ways that are destructive or dangerous,” Drake said of the actions of some fans on the National Championship night.

Drake said he appreciated the efforts made by security forces to protect those who celebrated the win from injury.

“Our security forces did everything they could to be prepared for that eventuality and to try to minimize the injury to the celebrators or bystanders,” he said. “It’s an ongoing issue that many cities have.”

Drake on the rapper Drake

Drake also said he likes the rapper who happens to share his name.

“There are parts of rap music that I believe are more positive — and I don’t mean to sound like an old guy,” Drake said with a laugh. “Rap with a more positive and thoughtful message, I would find more appealing.”

Drake, who said he has had an interest in music and its effects on civil rights and the law, talked about growing up with Motown music and listening to artists like Marvin Gaye and Bob Dylan.

“Some songs from that day were thoughtful and many were politically focused — it wasn’t just about high-school dating,” Drake said.

The president also mentioned a course he used to teach at University of California Irvine which incorporated civil rights, the Supreme Court and music.

“We talked about how music as an art form was a way that people could express themselves,” he said.

Drake recommended that students listen to the album “What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye.

“You can listen to some of the songs and they may be relevant tomorrow, or today quite easily,” Drake said.

His next steps

Looking to the future, Drake said he hopes to settle into a “more normal and sustainable schedule” now that he has had a couple of months to get acquainted with the university.

In the months he has been in Columbus, Drake said most of his time has been occupied by meeting with university officials and other university influencers.

“At the very beginning, there was so much that was new and the people we needed to meet first were a lot of people,” he said. “So I had about 100 people I had to meet first. So we spent a lot of time doing that. We had to move, we actually hadn’t moved as a family like this, and that was a thing that takes time and effort, so we were very busy with those things early on.”

With so much going on in the first months at OSU, Drake said one of the things from UC-Irvine that he missed was the connection he had made with students, staff and faculty while there.

“I noticed what I had missed is the level of contact I had been used to having with students and the faculty,” Drake said. “It was demonstratively lower than it had been (at UC-Irvine).”

He added that he misses interacting with students as a teacher, and with faculty as a colleague.

“I always taught, particularly in the last eight years, I taught an undergraduate course for freshmen. I was a member of the faculty for all of those years, so I was used to working with the faculty actively,” he said. “What I look forward to then, in 2015, is more time with students and faculty.”

Amanda Etchison contributed to this article. 

30 comments

  1. Predictably, Drake hid behind the Waters lawsuit excuse to avoid accountability. Coward. The Lantern should ask him to produce his actual financial holdings and not just his broker/bank’s name, as he is required by Ohio ethics law to do. Currently he is not compliant. These are facts. The guy responsible for Ohio State’s billions of dollars needs to fess up about his personal finances.

  2. Michael Drake is a public figure and has chosen to subject himself to public accountability without an expectation of privacy for his financial holdings. Otherwise, the public has no way to assess his objectivity and impartiality. He is bound by statute to answer for his actions and his finances. Perhaps the Lantern’s student investigators can do a better job of cracking the collusion on the Trustee board than those who are charged with holding them accountable. What happened to all the ethics professors and officers all over our university? Their silence is deafening.

  3. Nelson W. Barnhill, Class 63, BChE

    The first week we attended The Ohio State Universty, we were told pictures would be taken of disordly conduct. If you were identified, you would be expelled. No questions ask! If your present, you are part of the problem. Message, get the hell away.
    I think that policy would work today.

  4. You got your interview with Drake, Lantern staff, after the tantrum you threw… and this is all you produce?

  5. There is a reason why President Drake received at best a luke warm applause when introduced last Saturday inside The Shoe during the National Championship celebration. Both the Waters firing and the preparation for the on-campus post-game celebration are two examples of how poorly this current leadership handled both situations.

    Go BUCKS!

  6. It’s too late to hide behind “this was dropped on my desk when I got here and I wasn’t expecting it.” This past summer, it was Drake who chose to be the face of firing Jon and supporting an obviously sloppy and dishonest report. It was Drake who made himself out to be the superior moral authority and continued to publicly defend his rash attacks even as the entire report collapsed around him. Drake himself chose to make uninformed public comments and subsequently say the exact opposite (on tape) to the band.

    Now that even OSU’s “independent” investigation has found that the initial Glaros report was inaccurate, and that OSU is as culpable as anyone for any issues, his posture has changed from arrogant superiority to cowardly blame avoidance. All of a sudden, we are to believe he was given an unpleasant surprise in this report, and he wishes his colleagues would have taken care of this before he arrived. (For the record, I do too – they would have likely made better choices). Although he fired and slandered an educator far more talented than he, we are to feel sorry about how responding to this situation (aka doing his job) has affected him.

    Regardless of where the blame falls for Drake’s initial actions, the continued refusal to apologize for even a single slanderous fallacy amounts to contempt for the students and alumni he initially attacked this summer. If Drake doesn’t see fit to rectify a situation he clearly now believes was mishandled, then he should relinquish the seat of power to someone who is willing to take responsibility, admit mistakes, and work for a real solution. This is what good leadership looks like, and it’s what Ohio State should be demonstrating to students. Instead, we have a guy who thinks everything will be better if he pretends nothing happened, blames others, and appears to news outlets to let us know that he was celebrated at his last position.

    Actions speak louder than words. We’ve seen enough of Drake to know exactly what he is. Buckeye Nation expressed their dissatisfaction on Saturday, but it’s only going to get worse if Drake continues down this path.

  7. It’s too late to hide behind “this was dropped on my desk when I got here and I wasn’t expecting it.” This past summer, it was Drake who chose to be the face of firing Jon and supporting an obviously sloppy and dishonest report. It was Drake who made himself out to be the superior moral authority and continued to publicly defend his rash attacks even as the entire report collapsed around him. Drake himself chose to make uninformed public comments and subsequently say the exact opposite (on tape) to the band.

    Now that even OSU’s “independent” investigation has found that the initial Glaros report was inaccurate, and that OSU is as culpable as anyone for any issues, his posture has changed from arrogant superiority to cowardly blame avoidance. All of a sudden, we are to believe he was given an unpleasant surprise in this report, and he wishes his colleagues would have taken care of this before he arrived. (For the record, I do too – they would have likely made better choices). Although he fired and slandered an educator far more talented than he, we are to feel sorry about how responding to this situation (aka doing his job) has affected him.

    Regardless of where the blame falls for Drake’s initial actions, the continued refusal to apologize for even a single slanderous fallacy amounts to contempt for the students and alumni he initially attacked this summer. If Drake doesn’t see fit to rectify a situation he clearly now believes was mishandled, then he should relinquish the seat of power to someone who is willing to take responsibility, admit mistakes, and work for a real solution. This is what good leadership looks like, and it’s what Ohio State should be demonstrating to students. Instead, we have a guy who thinks everything will be better if he pretends nothing happened, blames others, and appears to news outlets to let us know that he was celebrated at his last position.

  8. He was booed at the Shoe, so now he finally shows his face to try and improve his image. Softball questions. Lame answers.
    Come on, Lantern. Apply some pressure! You can do better, I know you can. I’m rootin for ya.

  9. A guide for TBDBITL alumni: on chasing the glory days and defending the good ol’ kids currently in the band:
    1. Google “Jon Waters,” Michael Drake,” and “The Lantern” daily.
    2. Identity new articles.
    3. Unleash the most vicious comments conceivable.
    4. Straighten your “JW” pin- you’ve worked up a sweat!
    5. Watch those current TBDBITL players, like children of a nasty divorce, suffer the consequences of a battle you just won’t allow to end.
    6. Scratch that. You’ll never realize the harm you cause. It’s not about the kids. It’s about you now.

  10. Ha — are you a student? Do you routinely interact with students? Are you in any way qualified to determine what students want/need?

    This is bigger than some old guys wanting to relive the glory days. The band alumni base isn’t sufficient to create an audible “boo” in a crowd of almost 50,000. The issue here is that Drake’s actions are aggressively anti-student. When the student leaders themselves came out strongly against the actions of this summer, they were treated with contempt. It was the current band themselves who caught Drake in a lie and released the recording. As a student, I have the right to hold my leadership accountable.

  11. One last thing. OSU students are not “kids.” They are adults who are of age to vote and die in combat for our country. Your condescending attitude is the exact kind of crap that needs to go.

  12. How the end of the game was handled was atrocious.

    “Officers from the Columbus Division of Police and a SWAT team wore gas masks and stood by to keep order as students and fans rushed through the street. Tear gas was deployed during the post-game celebration.

    “An unfortunate and too oft repeated result of great success is people who are compromised in their thinking choose to celebrate in ways that are destructive or dangerous,””

    Most of these students just wanted to go out in the street and celebrate. There were few who started fires, they definitely were NOT the majority. The fact that they didn’t think ahead and close off High Street should be on THEM. They didn’t prepare and that is the fault of this ADMINISTRATION and Drake himself.

    I am a staff member here. I have personally met and seen many times in my years, Gordon Gee in our offices and out and about on campus. I have YET to meet Mr. Drake (and honestly, don’t really care to). He is a terrible President of this University, and I, for one, hope he is NOT around long.

  13. Another Staff Member

    Two things I noticed from all of these comments.
    1: Dr. Drake cannot comment on pending legal action in regards to the Jon Waters questions. Common practice is not to comment about anything remotely pertaining to parts of a legal case, any smart business or other operation facing a lawsuit would do this.
    2: How is it Dr. Drake’s fault that Columbus Police used tear gas and mace on High Street (a Columbus city street?) The ultimate responsibility for the Ohio State police force rests on Dr. Drake but to blame him for the actions of CPD is stretching it a little.
    Just a little food for thought although I think this opinion will not go over too well 🙂

  14. 1. The entitlement shown on this thread is appalling. You band members (parents and alumni included) that have been whining for more than 8 months need to seriously s t f u. You’re making all of us look pathetic. Let’s start with you parents: your kid is a great musician, but if s/he follows your lead, s/he’s really gonna suck at life and accepting responsibility for his/her actions. Shame on you for supporting such nonsense and hatred for the university the (now) president! Alumni: go do something more productive than trolling a student newspaper all day. Part of the reason why you’re so infatuated with the affairs of the band is because that was the last time that your life actually meant something. Current student band members that are still whining about the injustice: really?! This band is – and always will be – bigger than Jon Waters. He is NOT the tradition itself. We’re bigger than any one person. He allowed a number of serious and illegal offenses to happen, and so he had to pay the piper. That’s life! He contributed to a disruptive, illegal and asinine culture. That’s wrong! So what if you allowed yourselves to be hazed – it’s still wrong! Hazing is hazing, nimrods! And a gag order is simply that – legally, he CAN NOT comment on the case? If you folks can’t understand that, I clearly understand why you don’t think you (or your child) was hazed. Life is just about what you want – it’s about understanding the laws and responsibilities that come with the territory. Get a grip on reality…it’ll change your life!

    2. I’m sickened by the way you people are acting with regard to the President. Could he be more visible/present to us alumni, the student, faculty and staff? Absolutely! Perhaps if you big babies let go of some of the animosity and resentment that you have, he could stop spending all of his time dealing with b s like Jon Waters and you whiners and actually get out to meet us. You folks that booed him at the games looked and sounded like buffoons! People are watching every minute of your PETTINESS. You look and sound dumb.

    3. Being a public figure does NOT strip you of your rights to some privacy. Did you expect him to hand you his bank statements? Do you NOT think he was vetted prior to being offered the position?? He’s not at all out of compliance – you know how I know? Because I actually took the time to research what the law says, instead of running my mouth about things that I know nothing about. Try it….you might be surprised at how much the facts matter.

    4. You all really think that Dr. Drake controls the COLUMBUS Police Department and their actions? Again…perhaps a refresher course or some research on jurisdictional authority might be helpful for you. And if you REALLY believe students were justified in blocking a PUBLIC roadway to celebrate – you are an idiot! The last time I visited campus, the North and South Ovals still existed, the Ohio Union was still there, the various green spaces were still available…etc. Do you NOT get my point? Students had plenty of places and ways to celebrate that would NOT have resulted in THE Ohio State University being shown in such a negative light. The average student’s ACT score now sits at about 28 – but we can’t get them to understand what it means to properly celebrate your team’s victory?! Yeah, let’s not hold the students accountable for poor decision-making – it’s not not their young adults. Oh wait – they are. Instead, let’s blame the President for failing to control a police force that is NOT in his jurisdiction; let’s criticize the CPD for requesting that students disburse (as the students ILLEGALLY blocked roads, set fires, threw things, and damaged property), before finally having to resort to use smoke/gas deterrents to restore order.

    5a. Jonathan Picking: you consistently sound dumb, entitled, and like a 14 year-old child. Knock it off. You’re actually the reason why I infrequently read the comments, because I know that you’ll be singing the same ol’ song. Pick a new tune, dude.
    5b. OSU Alum: you do realize that we all know you’re a former member of the band that still hasn’t let go of his trombone – and (we recognize that) the band is the only time you’ve ever felt importannt, right? Just let it go, sir. Your day is done. You were both hazed and a perpetrator…that much is clear from the things you say. It’s one thing to be ignorant; it’s another to be pathetic. You’ve reached pathetic status. Please walk away.

    6. That’s it for me….but please know that the whining, misplaced blame, lack of personal accountability and the victim act has got to stop. It’s just plain pathetic!

  15. I heard Michael Drake tried to make Braxton transfer to Duke because he hates Ohio State! Then after the ACC championship, he sent Jameis Crab legs! He hasn’t released his finances because he paid Harbaugh to go to Michigan! HE HURT JT! HE MADE IT COLD! MICHAEL DRAKE IS THE REASON NICKELBACK IS STILL TORUING! ROLL TIDE!

  16. PAWWWWWLLLLLLL LISTEN HERE! ANONYMOUS IS WEAKING FOR NOT PUTTING HIS NAME! HES THE LANE KIFFIN OF INTERNET TROLLING! HELL PROBABLY GRT FIRED AFTER GETTING OFF THE CABS BUS AT THE UNION TOO!AND DAGGUMMIT PAWWWWLLL WE ALL THE SEC IS THE BEST CONFERENCE AT TROLLING FROM TOP TO BOTTOM! WAR EAGLE!

  17. @BuckeyeBaby – Respectfully, you are completely free to move on yourself from the Jon Waters “scandal” and to never read an article or read a comment again. That is basically the tune I’ve been singing for those who tell people who care about it to “s t f u,” as you put it.
    More people than Jon were directly affected by the firing and the so-called “evidence” the university put out in the public. Members and alumni were harassed by strangers in the public as well as their colleagues, some members on game day in their uniforms. The alumni and parents have not been “whiny.” They’ve been rational and informative, pointing out inconsistencies between the reasoning for firing Jon and the handling of the culture of the rest of the student body. Mirror Lake is still sanctioned by the university, raunchy music is still played over the loudspeakers during sporting events when there is a pep-band there to perform, Victoria’s Secret employees (appeared to be models) have been present at various university-sanctioned events wearing skimpy outfits, and now Dr. Drake’s reaction to post-championship festivities that were illegal (burning couches, tearing down a goal post) is basically “Well, that’s just unfortunate.”
    As a supporter of Jon, I’m willing to give Drake a chance, but so far I don’t approve of his lack of presence and running away from any questions related to the band scandal he started.
    Like I said, if you are sick of looking at this stuff, feel free not to look. And BTW, Jon was fired only 6 months ago, not “over 8 months.”

  18. At least Dr. Drake is more transparent than the current USG President.

  19. The person who claims to know the financial disclosure laws is incorrect. A public figure like Drake is required by statute to disclose his ACTUAL holdings, not simply his broker. Drake was a director at the bank/broker, so he knows better. Follow the money. He must go. OSU needs unifying leaders, not dividers, obfuscators and scoundrels.

  20. Buckeye in the West

    To start, the “boos” for President Drake, last Saturday, were clearly heard on the BTN broadcast. Also, compared to the various politicians that paraded on the stage; President Drake received the coldest reception. And him trying to emulate Dr. Gordon Gee; fell flat. That was the quietest “I-O” to his “O-H” heard in Ohio Stadium this year. Trying to his image and be a Rah Rah Buckeye did not work. In California, they do not even know what a buckeye is; all they know is “political correctness” and singing “Kumbaya”. President Drake is no President Gee. Like him or not, President Gee did more for Ohio state, its students, its alumni, its faculty and its staff, then President Drake can only dream of.

    President Drake has a very bad image problem. The Board of Trustees have even a worse image problem. And the Buckeye Nation knows how fake President Drake is, in his overtures. He will never be accepted, just like John Copper was never accepted as football coach, or Dr. Jennings as president.

    Eventually President Drake has to face the faculty, over Jon Waters, and other issues. The faculty have forced out Jennings; they can force out Drake.

    Message to President Drake you tenure at OSU will be a short one; you should start planning for your post OSU career.

  21. Commenting on Lantern articles is fun. 🙂

  22. I don't like Drake

    Simply because he isn’t Gee. I have no other reason.

  23. What does #OSUnewPrez think of us? We thought he had already been #MeetingStudents?

  24. SNOOZE-FEST! Let’s have a little personality, huh?

  25. @BuckeyeBaby:

    I wasn’t aware that fighting for justice for thousands of slandered and libeled alumni could be considered was “pettiness.” This isn’t about just one person – Jon Waters. And it isn’t about the four men in uniform on my living room wall (my three sons and I.) It’s about administrators who have abused their power and misrepresented eyewitness accounts. Some of their justification has been shown to be manufactured. It’s about the “at-will” employees who could suffer the same fate – being fire and then subjected to slander and libel. Post your name so that I can make up stories about you and get you fired.

    On our time in band: “that was the last time that your life actually meant something.” Thanks for pointing out that the last time my friends and I did something useful was as we entertained you at halftime for the last 136 years. I guess I was mistaken when I credited the lessons learned in the OSUMB for my success in life. I guess all those who went on to become a doctor, lawyer, dentist, professor, engineer, program manager, elementary/middle/high school science/math/social studies/music teachers, pastors or elected officials (national/state/local) really haven’t done much lately.

  26. Well, So, Ha, and the rest of you that haven’t seen through this charade, just remember that this is the President that wouldn’t give The Lantern its annual interview in the fall, that wouldn’t talk about the TBDBITL situation, even when It was not sub judice, and never made other than a stealth appearance all football season. Suddenly, he is on 10TV news being simpered all over, granting warm fuzzy interviews to the Lantern (but avoiding the tricky subjects), and showing up on 610 radio fawning all over the Marching Band that he trashed. Why the sudden change of,heart? Obvious to anyone who saw the celebration in the ‘Shoe on Saturday, and heard how roundly he was booed by the crowd. Cue an orchestrated charm offensive by Chris Davey and the other handlers to try to rescue a situation that is/has turned from desperate to critical. Even Karen Holbrook didn’t get a reception like that until she was a couple of years into her tenure. Clearly, in spite of all the denials, and all the “just move on” naysayers, the fallout,from the disastrous mishandling of TBDBITL is hitting home, not going away, and it is now hard to see how this can be turned around Sometfimes you just reap what you sow.

  27. I don’t know why Ohio State went from Dr Feelgood to Clarence Thomas for a presidential choice. I also do not understand why a school paper of Lantern caliber says the pres is taking over the “reigns” when the correct spelling is “reins”, an analogy referring to horse control, not a small kingdom.

  28. His “trying to hip” with the students reads like an Onion article. hahaha
    The damage control isn’t working. He needs to go.

  29. Yes, Drake is partially responsible for the mess after the Championship Game on High Street. Why wasn’t he prepared for the celebration? I am not even in the business of Univ Admin and I would have had my staff prepare a plan for the ‘after the game celebration’. Close High Street for 90 min? Let students CELEBRATE if they are not hurting property or persons? They easily could have avoided that mess with some pre-planning. Did I actually read that the CPD didn’t know that there was a ‘game viewing party’ going on inside the Student Union, so they were not prepared for kids celebrating on the stairs/lawn of the Union?? Really???? Yes, Drake is not Gee (that is the first problem….. LOL) but he is not student friendly either. Why should THE Ohio State University employ a President that is so disliked by staff and students? That is the question that needs to be addressed. WHO does he work for??? I pay Ohio taxes and I am not happy with my money going to his salary. It’s time for a change before anymore ill will is fostered.

  30. If us citizens of the Republic excuse the actions of corrupt leaders, then we deserve the consequences. We must DEMAND that Michael Drake come clean about his financial holdings or fire him. Since he his hiding his holdings, we can only presume they are unflattering. Therefore, fire him. If we give these scoundrels a pass, then we deserve the dictatorship that has assumed power here.

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