UC Regents Nominate Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to Head UC System

SAN FRANCISCO — The University of California (UC) Board of Regents announced today that it has nominated U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to serve as the university system’s 20th president.

The full Board of Regents will act on the recommendation July 18, during a special meeting following the board’s regular bimonthly meeting in San Francisco. If the regents approve the appointment, Napolitano would become the first woman in the university’s 145-year history to serve as president. She would succeed Mark G. Yudof, who announced in January that he would step down at the end of August after serving for more than five years.

“I am both honored and excited by the prospect of serving as president of the University of California,” said Napolitano. “I recognize that I am a non-traditional candidate. If appointed, I intend to reach out and listen to chancellors, to faculty, to students, to the state’s political leaders, to regents, to the heads of the other public higher education systems and, of course, to President Yudof and his team, who have done so much to steer the University of California through some extremely rough waters.”

As UC president, Napolitano, 55, would lead a system of 10 campuses, five medical centers, three affiliated national laboratories and a statewide agriculture and natural resources program. The UC 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.

As the twice-elected governor of Arizona, serving from 2003 to 2009, Napolitano, 55, was a consistent champion of public education, protecting funding of the state’s universities even as she addressed a $1 billion deficit upon assuming office. By 2006, she had turned the deficit into a $300 million surplus without raising taxes.

Chosen by President Barack Obama to serve as the third Secretary of Homeland Security, Napolitano leads a complex array of efforts to safeguard the nation – counterterrorism, border security, immigration enforcement, cyber security and disaster preparedness, response and recovery. Homeland Security is the third largest federal department, with a budget of $60 billion, 240,000 employees and 22 agencies and directorates, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Customs and Border Protection, Citizenship and Immigration Services, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Coast Guard and Secret Service.

Board Chair Bruce Varner, who served as vice chair of the search committee, noted in a statement, “Throughout her noteworthy career, Secretary Napolitano has built a track record for taking on and tackling the toughest of challenges. She has a reputation for seeing things through, no matter how difficult the effort.


“She has the intellectual curiosity, leadership qualities, personal charm and discipline needed to navigate any future challenges that await this university. I anticipate learning much from Secretary Napolitano, given her experience leading large, complex organizations.”

If you appreciated this article and want to receive more valuable industry content like this, click here to sign up for our FREE digital newsletters!

Leading in Turbulent Times: Effective Campus Public Safety Leadership for the 21st Century

This new webcast will discuss how campus public safety leaders can effectively incorporate Clery Act, Title IX, customer service, “helicopter” parents, emergency notification, town-gown relationships, brand management, Greek Life, student recruitment, faculty, and more into their roles and develop the necessary skills to successfully lead their departments. Register today to attend this free webcast!

Get Our Newsletters
Campus Safety HQ