Drake was a vocal opponent of Proposition 209, often leading forums on the UCSF campus to garner opposition to it. He is an African-American physician who graduated from Stanford University and attended medical school at UCSF. After an ophthalmology residency, his concentration was academic medicine, at one point responsible for the oversight of grants in excess of $10 million. He served as Director of Admissions at UCSF medical school and sat on the resident selection committee for the Department of Ophthalmology prior to his appointment at the Office of the President. His annual $350,000 salary remained unchanged from his previous position as Office of the President, up from $70,000 paid to the previous UCI chancellor. As of 2010 he earned $374,969.32.
During his time at UCI, he was well known for the public firing (and subsequent rehiring) of Erwin Chemerinsky as the school's dean of the School of Law.
His first major action as university president was to fire beloved marching band director Jon Waters. Subsequently, numerous problems were found with the investigation, but to date Drake has stood by his decision.