Wednesday, November 26, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Napolitano tapped as UC president

By
From page A1 | July 14, 2013 |

By Nanette Asimov

The surprising nomination Friday of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to lead the University of California was greeted with delight by faculty leaders and UC observers, and with cautious optimism by students and some faculty watchdogs.

Napolitano, 55, will step down from her Cabinet post to become UC’s 20th president and the first woman to head the 10-campus system, pending approval by the regents at their meeting next week in San Francisco.

She would replace Mark Yudof, who has led UC since 2008.

Napolitano would not be the first high-level federal official to head the university. Former Assistant Secretary of Defense Charles Hitch was president for eight years, until 1975.

The selection of a nonacademic executive with strong ties to the federal government was hailed as a smart choice by a range of observers, from Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the wife of Regent Dick Blum, to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who said that despite his disagreements with Napolitano, “I have never doubted her integrity, work ethic or commitment to our nation’s security.”

There is also the sense that Napolitano could be UC’s greatest ambassador to the federal government, which the university depends on for research investments and other funding that UC regents consistently say they wish were more generous.

“This is somebody who could have been a Supreme Court justice, attorney general or had any opportunity in the world. Yet she’s chosen to lead the University of California,” said Bob Powell, chairman of UC’s Academic Senate, who led an advisory committee to the presidential search team.

“She knows how to address Congress. She knows how federal agencies work, and she can discuss the value of federal partnerships with public universities — not just UC,” Powell said.

UCD Chancellor Linda Katehi said in a statement she believed that Napolitano “will be a transformational leader for the university.”

“She has run large, complex organizations, and has been a strong advocate for education at all levels from kindergarten to college,” Katehi said. “With her deep background in politics at both the state and federal levels, she will help the UC system navigate this period of tight federal budgets and continuing reductions in funding.”

Katehi noted Napolitano’s role in the Obama administration’s push for immigration reform and her support of federal “Dream Act” legislation, which would create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented college students brought to the country as children.

“These issues are important to us as a university and as a nation, as they enable us to attract the best and the brightest from around the world,” Katehi said

‘Outsider’s mind’

Rep. John Garamendi, an ex-officio member of the Board of Regents while lieutenant governor, called Napolitano a “terrific choice” who could “really change the direction the university is going.”

“The university needs to return to its traditional role as a ladder up for every Californian, wherever they come from, whatever their economic circumstances,” said Garamendi, D-Walnut Creek. “The university has to regain the support of the general public, which has been lost through a series of serious mistakes, (increased) pay scales and tuition among them.”

Garamendi praised Napolitano’s intelligence, “unparalleled” administrative skill and both her political savvy and experience at the state and local level. He noted that she served as an ex-officio member of the Arizona Board of Regents while governor.

Napolitano will be able to connect with the public in a way Yudof failed to do, he said.

“The university does not need an academic administrator,” Garamendi said. “It needs someone from the outside who understand the role the university in a just society — that’s access — and economic vitality.”

Gov. Jerry Brown, an ex-officio member of the regents who played an advisory role in the search, said, “It will be exciting to work with her.”

“Secretary Napolitano has the strength of character and an outsider’s mind that will well serve the students and faculty,” said Brown, who has been more involved with UC than past governors.

His relationship with Yudof is friendly. But a tension between them exists because UC typically raises tuition to cover costs and Brown has urged it to stop the practice or risk losing state funds. About 11 percent of UC’s $24 billion annual budget comes from the state. And at $12,192, UC’s annual tuition is about double what it was five years ago.

A tuition truce was reached for this year, but it remains to be seen how Napolitano will handle the complex issue. Brown has also prodded UC to embrace online education and increase its graduation rate.

Another area of discord is the regents’ insistence on paying executives ever higher compensation, while Brown prefers humbler “servant leadership” in the public system.

Yudof is the eighth-highest-paid public university leader in the country, with a total package of $847,149, including a base salary of $591,084. Napolitano’s pay won’t be revealed until the regents vote.

Robert Shireman, who served as deputy undersecretary of education during President Obama’s first term, called her nomination “a brilliant choice.”

He said UC needs a person who isn’t steeped in the politics of the university but who has experience with complex organizations.

“There’s always the suspicion that (insiders) may have drunk the Kool-Aid too long,” said Shireman, director of California Competes, a think tank in Oakland. “Yet there’s no reason for faculty to believe she wouldn’t come in with an open mind and really listen.”

Gaining fame

Napolitano, who grew up in Pittsburgh and Albuquerque, earned a bachelor’s degree from Santa Clara University and a law degree from the University of Virginia. She was a lawyer in Phoenix when, in 1991, she represented law Professor Anita Hill during her sexual harassment testimony against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas.

Two years later, President Bill Clinton named Napolitano as U.S. attorney in Arizona. She was elected the state’s first female attorney general in 1998, and in 2002 she was elected governor.

She was in her second term when Obama nominated her to run the Department of Homeland Security in 2009. The agency was formed after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Recently, Napolitano has been embroiled in the political battle over immigration.

UC has its own version of immigration issues that Napolitano will need to address: Rising numbers of out-of-state students, who pay far more in tuition than state residents, have been granted entry in recent years, to the consternation of alumni and others who believe spots at UC campuses should first go to Californians.

Although it isn’t clear how Napolitano will handle that debate, students said they worry that the new president has little understanding of students’ concerns.

“There are some concerns in regards to her background,” said Raquel Morales, president of the UC Student Association and a senior at UC San Diego.

Surprise to students

The selection of Napolitano “was random for a lot of student leaders,” Morales said, meaning it came out of the blue. “So we hope she’ll be proactive in learning about the system and the student experience. One of the main things is meeting with the student leadership.”

Napolitano takes the reins at a time when UC is trying to recover from ugly protest incidents, among them student and faculty protesters being clubbed at UC Berkeley and pepper-sprayed at UCD.

Yudof became a frequent target of those protesters. They painted him as the high-salaried embodiment of what they see as the privatizing of a university by a bloated leadership too cozy with moneyed interests.

Some faculty watchdogs predicted that UC will develop a cozier relationship with the defense industry as a result of having Napolitano at the helm.

“It’s something we need to watch,” said Bob Meister, president of the Council of UC Faculty Associations and a frequent UC critic. “If it’s not done transparently, it will be a bad thing.”

Sherry Lansing, who chairs the Board of Regents, called Napolitano a “distinguished and dedicated public servant who has earned trust at the highest, most critical levels of our country’s government.”

Lansing chaired the 10-member presidential search committee and said it unanimously endorsed Napolitano’s nomination.

Her lack of experience as an academic administrator should not be a hinderance, said Powell, a UCD engineering professor.

“She has deep respect for the faculty, and she will listen to what we say,” Powell said in a statement. “She knows that, as the core of what makes UC great, the faculty must have an environment in which they can thrive as scholars and teachers.”

Napolitano joins a growing number of outsiders, including former politicians, hired in part to give universities increased political clout.  The American Council on Education last year released a survey found that in 2011, 20 percent of college presidents did not come from academia — up from  13 percent in 2006.

Regents meetings
The UC Regents will meet at UCSF’s Mission Bay campus for three days next week, beginning Tuesday. See the agenda at www.bit.ly/1dosqYe

— Enterprise staff writer Cory Golden contributed to this report.

Comments

comments

San Francisco Chronicle

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Time to give thanks for nature’s beauty

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Food fight … in a good way

    By Tanya Perez | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Fremont Weir parking lot remains closed

    By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A1

     
    Occupy movement settles in at UC Davis

    By Tanya Perez | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Guard reinforcements contain damage in Ferguson

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

     
    Weather affecting Thanksgiving travelers

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

     
    Second cat-hoarding suspect arrested

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

    Happy Thanksgiving from The Enterprise

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Year-end films to see, or not, on KDRT

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3 | Gallery

     
    LCI marks 50 years with special service

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Pedal around Davis on weekly bike ride

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Senior Center hosts holiday sing-along

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Sutter sponsors qigong for holiday de-stress

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Learn to use Skype at Connections Café

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Girls who volunteer may apply for grant

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Round up at the registers for Davis schools

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Davis Community Gift Project brightens holidays for children

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A4

     
    Speaker proposes changes in humanities doctorate

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4 | Gallery

    Boy Scouts start Christmas tree sales on Friday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    Volunteers needed to grow plants for habitat restoration

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5 | Gallery

    Rainbow City community meeting set Dec. 1

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A12

     
    .

    Forum

    She wants more from him

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Planting love at new home

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    Innovation parks comparison

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

     
    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

    Musings in the wake of Ferguson decision

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

     
    Rich Rifkin: Is it time to be a bear or a bull?

    By Rich Rifkin | From Page: A6

    .

    Sports

    Let’s not lose another good DHS coach

    By Chris Saur | From Page: B1

     
    Blue Devils prepare for a new season on the mat

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    No excuses, but there’s hope for UCD after 2-9 season

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

     
    Joseph, Manzanares lead 10 All-Big Sky Aggie picks

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    DHS wrestling is not just for boys

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Davis Little League offers early sign-up discounts

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

     
    Kings get past Pelicans

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

    .

    Features

    Salute to non-steamed broccoli

    By Dan Kennedy | From Page: A7 | Gallery

     
    .

    Arts

    It really is ‘The Best Christmas Pageant Ever’

    By Debra DeAngelo | From Page: A11 | Gallery

     
    .

    Business

    .

    Obituaries

    Elzyne Thompson

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Death notice: Buddy Ralph Mills

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Wednesday, November 26, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: A9

     
    .

    Ready, Set, Shop!

    Shop locally: You can have your pie and eat it too

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: RSS1

    Santa’s little helper: secrets to happy holiday shopping

    By San Francisco Chronicle | From Page: RSS2

    Make sure it gets there: deadlines for shopping and shipping

    By The Associated Press | From Page: RSS2

    Downtown lights up at holiday open house

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: RSS3

    Full of warm wishes and over-sharing, the holiday card lives on

    By The Associated Press | From Page: RSS4

    Shop smart: Protect your wallet and your identity this shopping season

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RSS5

    Woodland celebrates the holidays downtown

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RSS5