8:43 PM: Janet Napolitano was appointed today as the first-ever female president of the University of California in a vote by the UC Board of Regents.
Napolitano, 55, who is secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and former governor of Arizona, was appointed at a special regents’ meeting this afternoon at UC San Francisco’s Mission Bay campus.
She is expected to resign from her federal post on Sept. 6 and take over as UC president at the end of that month.
The UC system has faced budget cuts in recent years because of the declining economy and a decrease in state funding, but Napolitano told the regents that “the ability to tackle tough challenges is what I know.”
She said, “I will listen to the governor and the Legislature, the regents, faculty, the students and the staff. I need to know where you think we need to be going, where we are excelling and where we can improve.”
The two student regents on the board provided the lone dissenting votes against Napolitano, citing her role in the federal Secure Communities program, which led to the widespread deportation of undocumented immigrants.
Cinthia Flores, one of the two student regents, said “Secure Communities will cast a long shadow on her future endeavors” and is not in line with the university’s commitment to diversity.
That sentiment was echoed by dozens of students and immigrant supporters who held a rally before the meeting to oppose Napolitano’s appointment.
“This is the same person who … criminalized immigrants,” said Jen Low, a UC Santa Cruz alumna.
“It is unjust for her to be the next president of our treasured public university,” Low said.
Some of the students criticized what they said was a lack of transparency in the selection process for a new president and the fact that the appointment occurred during the UC schools’ summer break when it was harder to organize against it.
Several members of the group also spoke out in opposition to the appointment during the public comment period of the meeting.
The meeting was briefly interrupted when one member of the group charged at the regents but was stopped by police officers who took him away in handcuffs.
At least four others were also arrested after shouting down the regents with chants of “Education not deportation.”
Napolitano said she has been a consistent advocate for comprehensive immigration reform and the DREAM Act to help undocumented students.
She said of the protesters, “I want them to feel that they have in me a leader who wants the University of California to be a welcoming place for them.”
Napolitano was recommended for the position by a special regents’ selection committee that reviewed more than 300 candidates for the position, UC officials said.
The regents today also approved her annual salary of $570,000, along with other compensation that includes at least $142,500 for relocating to the Bay Area.
Her overall compensation package is about 10 percent less than outgoing UC president Mark Yudof, who announced earlier this year that he was stepping down after five years in the post.
Bruce Varner, chair of the board of regents, said Napolitano was offered the same compensation as Yudof but decided to take the lower amount.
Varner said Napolitano, the 20th president in the 145-year history of the UC system, is “truly remarkable and impressive” and added that “it’s a great day for the university.”
Napolitano’s Bay Area ties include graduating from Santa Clara University as the school’s first female valedictorian.
She will oversee a UC system that enrolls more than 234,000 students, employs about 208,000 faculty and staff and has an annual operating budget of more than $24 billion across 10 campuses, five medical centers and other facilities.
3:08 PM: Janet Napolitano was appointed as the new president of University of California in a vote this afternoon by the UC Board of Regents.
Napolitano, who is secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, was appointed at the regents’ meeting at UC San Francisco’s Mission Bay campus.
The two student regents provided the lone dissenting votes, citing Napolitano’s role in deporting undocumented immigrants.
Board chairman Bruce Varner called Napolitano, who will be the first-ever female president of the UC system, “truly remarkable and impressive.”
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who serves on the board, said, “I think we’re lucky to have her.”
A special regents’ selection committee had recommended Napolitano after reviewing more than 300 candidates for the position, the board announced last week.
She is expected to continue as head of the Department of Homeland Security until mid-September, with an expected start date as UC president on Sept. 30, said Peter King, UC executive director of public affairs.
The regents today also approved an annual salary of $570,000 for Napolitano, along with an additional payment of $142,500 for relocating to the Bay Area.
Napolitano will replace outgoing UC president Mark Yudof, who announced earlier this year that he was stepping down after five years in the position.
Her appointment was opposed by a group of students and immigrant advocates who gathered outside the conference center before the regents’ meeting.
“This is the same person who … criminalized immigrants,” said Jen Low, referencing the federal Secure Communities program that Napolitano oversaw.
“It is unjust for her to be the next president of our treasured public university,” said Low, an alumna of UC Santa Cruz.
Several members of the group also spoke in opposition to Napolitano’s appointment during today’s meeting and shouted down the regents with chants of “Education not deportation,” prompting a brief interruption of the meeting and at least five arrests.
Students criticized what they said was a lack of transparency in the selection process and the fact that the appointment occurred during the schools’ summer break when it was harder to organize against it.
Dan McMenamin, Bay City News