Janet Napolitano Leaves Homeland Security to Run Univ. of California


United States secretary of Homeland Security and one-time Governor of Arizona Janet Napolitano is leaving her post in the Obama administration to take over the University of California school system, reports the LA Times. She’ll be the first woman to take the job.

“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,” one of the regents said in a statement. Napolitano herself thanked President Obama “for the chance to serve our nation during this important chapter in our history.” The Times notes that:

Napolitano’s nomination by a committee of UC regents came after a secretive process that insiders said focused on her early as a high-profile, although untraditional, candidate who has led large public agencies and shown a strong interest in improving education.
UC officials believe that her Cabinet experiences –- which include helping to lead responses to hurricanes and tornadoes and overseeing some anti-terrorism measures — will help UC administer its federal energy and nuclear weapons labs and aid its federally funded research in medicine and other areas.

Since the recession hit, the UC system has been plagued with problems, primarily financial; students have reportedly had trouble getting the classes they need to graduate in four years, as California’s financial crisis has prompted money for the well-regarded state college system to dwindle.

Though this news is surprising, Napolitano will probably be a good fit for a number of reasons, especially given that she’s been an advocate for immigration reform. That’s an issue that students at the UC schools have been particularly passionate about; in California, the DREAM act has allowed many undocumented immigrants to go to a state school and be eligible for financial aid.

UC regents will likely approve Napolitano’s nomination next week, and she’ll begin work in the fall.

Janet Napolitano, Homeland Security chief, to head UC [LA Times]

Image via Michael Dwyer/AP

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