Chancellor Preaches Tolerance

After eight months on the job, Chancellor Michael Drake has had his share of ups and downs. Last week, The New University got a chance to sit down with Drake to find out what he has in store for the future of UC Irvine.
Despite the issues surrounding the resignation of UCI Medical Center CEO Ralph Cygan, Drake and his staff are optimistic about the future of the Medical Center.
When asked about Cygan’s resignation, Drake responded by saying that after discussing leadership at the UCIMC, ‘it was time to move in a different direction.’
Despite the widespread media coverage of the UCIMC scandal, Drake encourages the campus community to look deeper into the reputation of the university.
Drake described the issues facing the UCIMC as ‘troubling’ and ones that ‘need a great deal of time and attention,’ but he was nonetheless pleased with quality of excellence put forth by the faculty and students in the past.
‘Intensive focus that has been placed on the areas where we need to improve casts a shadow on the work of literally thousands of people which is exemplary every day,’ he said. ‘There are things we need to do better and will do better, but there are also things we’ve done better.’
Drake is hoping to improve health care, to live and exemplify good values and to build a new resource for the community.
Concentrating on the overall growth of the campus is another area which Drake would like to focus on.
The university is currently aiming to increase the student body by 5,000 to 7,000 by 2015, increase graduate student enrollment, house approximately half of the students on campus and establish new educational programs in health sciences.
Future growth may include a law school which Drake would like to see ‘over the next several years.’
One of the things Drake stressed was the commitment to uphold UCI as a ‘values-based organization’ which he believes led to some of the problems at the UCIMC.
‘I would love it if we as a campus could practice living our values and when we deviate from that, we correct ourselves,’ Drake said. As the city of Irvine continues to develop, one of the things Drake hopes for is a partnership with the community so that ‘the university world and the nonuniversity world have tighter bonds.’
As the diversity of our student body continues to increase, one of the most important things students should be aware of is being respectful of others’ beliefs.
‘Tolerance is hierarchical, but it’s not as good as saying, ‘Let me appreciate why someone would say such a thing,’ [and incorporating] what you’re saying into my dialogue,’ Drake said.
The chancellor encourages students to voice their opinion on ways to improve student life.
‘I’ve really enjoyed the support and encouragement of the student body,’ Drake said. ‘Students have been generous, thoughtful and engaging.’
However, there were some things Drake didn’t expect when he became chancellor.
Since his background includes three decades in the health sciences, Drake hoped that he could spend his time focusing on the social sciences, the arts and humanities. However, with the recent UCIMC scandal, much of his time has been occupied with health sciences.
Although Drake sees problems that need to be improved, he is committed to improving them.
‘[With my] sleeves rolled up, I am absolutely determined to have those things fixed,’ Drake said.
Do those improvements include a UCI football team?
‘Anything is possible,’ Drake said. ‘But that’s a long-term project and there are other things that are likely to happen first.’