LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano will become the first female president of the University of California system, officials announced Friday.
“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,” UC Regent and Committee Chair Sherry Lansing said.
Napolitano, who will resign from her federal post Friday, will head the 145-year-old, 10-campus system that includes local schools such as UCLA, UC Riverside and UC Irvine. The UC system also includes five medical centers, three affiliated national laboratories and a statewide agriculture and natural resources program.
The system has more than 234,000 students, about 208,000 faculty and staff, more than 1.6 million living alumni and an annual operating budget of more than $24 billion.
Napolitano, one of 300 potential nominees reviewed for the position, received a unanimous vote of recommendation from the 10-member Special Committee, Lansing said.
“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,” Lansing said. “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.”
The full Board of Regents will act on the recommendation Thursday, July 18, during a special meeting following the board’s regular bimonthly meeting in San Francisco.
“For more than four years I have had the privilege of serving President Obama and his Administration as the Secretary of Homeland Security. The opportunity to work with the dedicated men and women of the Department of Homeland Security, who serve on the frontlines of our nation’s efforts to protect our communities and families from harm, has been the highlight of my professional career. We have worked together to minimize threats of all kinds to the American public. The Department has improved the safety of travelers; implemented smart steps that make our immigration system more fair and focused while deploying record resources to protect our nation’s borders; worked with states to build resiliency and make our nation’s emergency and disaster response capabilities more robust; and partnered with the private sector to improve our cybersecurity. After four plus years of focusing on these challenges, I will be nominated as the next President of the University of California to play a role in educating our nation’s next generation of leaders. I thank President Obama for the chance to serve our nation during this important chapter in our history, and I know the Department of Homeland Security will continue to perform its important duties with the honor and focus that the American public expects,” Napolitano said in a statement.
The 55-year-old served as governor of Arizona from 2003 to 2009, when she was named Secretary of Homeland Security.
Current UC President Mark G. Yudof announced in January that he would step down from the office in August after a five-year term.