Ohio State President Michael V. Drake, shown in January, will retire a year early. FRED SQUILLANTE / THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

Ohio State president retiring a year early

“Our goal when we came to Columbus was to see The Ohio State University rise in impact and influence among the nation’s leading research universities, to significantly improve student and faculty success and recognition, and to contribute further to our community in a way that makes us the exemplars of the 21st-century land-grant university,” Drake said in a written statement. “It is great to see that happening.”

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On Thursday, Drake received his annual job evaluation, which included a 2.5 percent raise but no bonus. His base pay will be $892,000 a year. His contract runs through June 2021.

Since he started at OSU in June 2014, Drake has navigated controversies such as the firing of marching band director Jon Waters, the suspension of head football coach Urban Meyer and an ongoing investigation into 20 years of sexual abuse perpetrated by Dr. Richard Strauss at the university.

But in the announcement Thursday, the university points to Drake’s successes:

— the first comprehensive tuition freeze for in-state students in 40 years;

— earmarking $150 million in need-based aid since 2015;

— raising nearly $2.8 billion in donations to the university;

— setting all-time highs in applications, retention rates, research expenditures, and graduation rates.

While OSU president, Drake served in national leadership positions with the Association of American Universities, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, and the Board of Governors of the NCAA.

Drake replaced E. Gordon Gee as OSU president in June 2014.

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Drake, 69, will remain at Ohio State on faculty. The OSU Board of Trustees will launch a national search for Drake’s replacement.

OSU’s president must be a first-rate fundraiser, be able to convince lawmakers and governors to parse out precious funds, operate both a major medical center and a nationally recognized sports enterprise, manage a $6 billion budget and 33,000 employees, and serve diverse constituents that include 65,000 students, 500,000 alumni and 11 million Ohioans.

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