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Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano Named UC President

The U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, has been named as the next University of California President, UC officials announced today, Friday. She'll be the first woman to hold the job in the university's 145-year history.

U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano has been chosen by a UC Regents selection committee as the next president of the University of California, UC officials announced July 12, 2013. Photo: U.S. Department of Homeland Security
U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano has been chosen by a UC Regents selection committee as the next president of the University of California, UC officials announced July 12, 2013. Photo: U.S. Department of Homeland Security
For the first time in its history, the University of California will have a female president when Janet Napolitano, currently U.S. Secretary for Homeland Security, assumes leadership of the 10-campus system.

UC officials announced this morning, Friday, that Napolitano, a former governor of Arizona, had been chosen by a special UC Regents selection committee from among more than 300 candidates to succeed outgoing President Mark Yudof. 

Her nomination must still be approved by the full board of Regents, but UC officials and U.S. President Barack Obama were treating the appointment as confirmed. Obama issued a statement thanking her for her service and wishing her "the best of luck" in her new job.

UC officials acknowledged that Napolitano is an unusual choice in another respect. She's a lifetime public official picked for a responsibility that generally is assumed by those from academia.

In announcing the news, Regent Sherry Lansing, who chaired the selection committee, issued the following statement, which includes information about Napolitano's background:

“I am pleased to announce that the Special Committee has nominated Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano to serve as the 20th president of the University of California. The search for a new leader for UC was extensive, with more than 300 potential nominees reviewed. Secretary Napolitano rose to the top and received a unanimous vote of recommendation from the Special Committee.

“Secretary Napolitano is a distinguished and dedicated public servant who has earned trust at the highest, most critical levels of our country’s government. She has proven herself to be a dynamic, hard-working and transformative leader. As Governor of Arizona, she was an effective advocate for public education, and a champion for the life-changing opportunities that education provides. As Secretary of Homeland Security, she has been an ardent advocate for the federal Dream Act and the architect of a policy that protects from deportation young undocumented immigrants who are pursuing a college education.

“Her personal story is compelling. As a student at Santa Clara University in California, she became the university’s first female valedictorian, and a Truman Scholar. After earning her law degree at the University of Virginia, she was selected to clerk for Judge Mary M. Schroeder of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Her father was dean of the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. It is no coincidence that those who know her best say that a passion for education is in her DNA.

 “While some may consider her to be an unconventional choice, Secretary Napolitano is without a doubt the right person at the right time to lead this incredible University. She will bring fresh eyes and a new sensibility – not only to UC, but to all of California. She will stand as a vigorous advocate for faculty, students and staff at a time when great changes in our state, and across the globe, are presenting as many opportunities as challenges. A final decision on Secretary Napolitano’s appointment rests with the full Board of Regents. I can say with great confidence that the Special Committee has put forward a remarkably gifted candidate.”

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Nadja Adolf July 12, 2013 at 06:31 PM
A perfect choice for this era. She can install surveillance equipment in all the dorms and classrooms.

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