Last Updated:September 22 @ 12:08 pm

Opposition rises to Janet Napolitano as next UC president

By Sacramento Bee (CA)

Objection is mounting to the nomination of Janet Napolitano as the next University of California president, with students and immigration activists planning to protest against her at Thursday's meeting of the governing Board of Regents in San Francisco.

Napolitano, a former governor and attorney general of Arizona, announced Friday she would step down as President Barack Obama's U.S. Homeland Security secretary after her nomination to UC is confirmed. She is expected to attend the meeting, where regents are scheduled to vote on her nomination.

As the head of the national Department of Homeland Security, Napolitano is the face of the nation's immigration policy, a role that is making her unpopular with some UC activists. In her first two years as Homeland Security secretary, the United States deported more undocumented immigrants than ever before, the federal government announced in 2011. She also oversaw the so-called "Secure Communities" program that allows law enforcement and immigration officials to share fingerprints of arrestees.

UC Irvine student Andrea Gaspar, 22, said many students are upset by the Secure Communities program and object to its architect taking the reins at UC.

"A lot of families were being affected and harassed and searched for documentation, for their background and they were profiled," Gaspar said, adding that immigrant students fear that they will be unwelcome at UC with Napolitano at the head.

"It's going to be hard to be part of the university knowing that the head of the university has harassed your family and your friends," she said.

"We need someone who is willing to ... embrace a student as a human being and not as someone with a documentation status."

Napolitano supported a federal bill known as the DREAM Act, which sought to stop the deportation of children whose parents brought them to the United States illegally if they have no criminal record and are pursuing a college education or military career. Congress never passed the bill.

Despite her support for the DREAM Act, the website dreamactivist.org is collecting signatures on a letter that asks UC regents not to confirm Napolitano.

"Secretary Napolitano is the architect of the deportation machine that has resulted in over 1.5 million deportations during President Obama's tenure," the letter says. "She has no expertise in higher education, only in family separation, and no place in our public university system."

Napolitano is an unusual choice for UC, which for more than 100 years has been headed by men with rich backgrounds as scholars and university administrators. She would be the first woman -- and the first career politician -- to head California's premier system of higher education.

While she wouldn't be the first politician in the country to take the reins of a university, some California faculty are unhappy that someone with a thin academic background is in line to take UC's top job.

"Napolitano is contrary to every other president that UC has ever had. It seems to be a sign that they want to make a change, but it's not clear what that direction is," said William Drummond, a professor at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism.

"This is a question that will be hotly debated as people drift back from vacation -- what does this mean about who the university is? Are we still the crown jewel in the academic world? ... Or now are we turning into more of a political entity, something that's kicked around within the framework of partisan politics? That's the uncertainty about what this means."

Christopher Newfield, a UC Santa Barbara professor who studies higher education issues, wrote a blog post criticizing UC for its interest in what he called the nation's "top cop."

"Meritocracies define 'being qualified' for the biggest job in a field as requiring prior experience in other jobs in the field. One is co-pilot before being pilot, a medical intern before being a licensed physician, Provost at Columbia before being Chancellor of UC Berkeley, and so on," Newfield wrote.

"Ms. Napolitano has no experience with university life or management and no known body of organized thought on the subject. It is not easy to make up for this. Being a political heavyweight is not a qualification for being a university president. Earning President Obama's trust is not a qualification."

Bob Powell, a UC Davis professor who chairs UC's statewide academic senate, defended the selection of Napolitano.

Being president of the UC system is very different than heading a campus, he said. The statewide president already acts as a political figurehead, he said, and does not hire faculty or make decisions about which professors get tenure -- decisions made by campus-level chancellors.

"The president is (at the Capitol) a lot and is the first person anyone in the Legislature is going to call when they want to talk about the University of California," Powell said. For that reason, he said, a political president makes sense.

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(c)2013 The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.)

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12 Comments

  1. inluminatuoComment by inluminatuo
    July 18, 2013 @ 9:34 am

    “In her first two years as Homeland Security secretary, the United States deported more undocumented immigrants than ever before, the federal government announced in 2011.” WHat?????

    Let us be perfectly clear, it was the failed jobless Obama economy the caused illegals to Self-Deport themselves in record numbers,,,,,,Obama just gave them the guns most fast and furiously. He armed the illegals while seeking to disarm the Americans of Legal status. Let California have her, they deserve her and all others who when they can’t stand the political heat in the kitchen look for cool safe havens of socialist collectives to hide within, or flee to another state one step ahead of the process server. Our borders and homeland are no more secure under her reign of neglect than the Roach Motel called Washington is from the political cockroaches that keep sliding in there to feed free off the productive American people and economy.

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    • usafoldsargeComment by usafoldsarge
      July 18, 2013 @ 10:34 am

      love it………………………..

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  2. Mort_fComment by Mort_f
    July 18, 2013 @ 10:07 am

    Two good things are potentially possible. California deserves her, and she will be out of Washington.

    Unfortunately, adding her to the California mix will make California an even deeper cesspool.

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    Rating: 4.8/5 (17 votes cast)
  3. bna42Comment by bna42
    July 18, 2013 @ 10:53 am

    “. . .announced Friday she would step down as President Barack Obama’s U.S. Homeland Security secretary after her nomination to UC is confirmed.”

    The way the media first reported the story, she had already been selected, she was planning on leaving the government in September, and it was a done deal.

    If her nomination isn’t confirmed by UC, are we still stuck with her? Since she has indicated she wants to leave, replace her and let her go out on her own. She has done enough damage already.

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  4. davebnmComment by davebnm
    July 18, 2013 @ 10:55 am

    You just can’t please liberals? Put Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson in that position. Maybe that will make them happy?

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  5. fabianComment by fabian
    July 18, 2013 @ 11:01 am

    Having been the nation top cop could prove useful when you have to pepper spray your flock.

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  6. middlegroundComment by middleground
    July 18, 2013 @ 11:50 am

    Compare this selection with how Northwestern University, as one of the nation’s top universities, chose their president. It was reported they solicited their alumni for names of who to appoint as the university’s president. A world class economist currently on their faculty was selected and offered the position five years in the future with the interim used to wrap up his academic commitments and learn the administrative skills necessary to do the job. The person describing this had dealt with many university presidents and he described Northwestern’s president, who he had worked with, as an absolutely awesome administrator.

    The reason no university should ever select a bureaucrat or politician as their university or university system’s president is that their knowledge of the role and mission of higher education is completely second hand knowledge. Bureaucrats from government and from higher education often seem to exchange positions, but it is the faculty who do all the teaching, research and service and they exchange with corporate America and seemingly seldom with government. You will sometimes see they have started a company or even begun what grew to a corporation, but seldom do you find them moving into the nation’s bureaucracy. You may find faculty authoring books, inventing new approaches and products or even analyzing bureaucracy, but most were drawn to teaching and research for a different reason than those drawn to university administration and government. They are just different in personality and lifetime goals, although the federal government through its “good intentions” has been altering the type of person in faculty positions during recent years.

    The role and mission of higher education is to pass on to the next generation the knowledge and skills of humankind (teaching), add to or organize existing knowledge and skills (research) and apply humankind’s knowledge and skills to improve society and make possible a better future through knowledge (service). In other words create the creative mind with a broad perspective. Some fields of higher education meet these three goals more effectively than others, but at least they should all strive for this type of achievement. A successful scholar, artist, musician, engineer or scientist will have lived through the frustrations of the creative thought process and understand its fragile nature, whereas a successful bureaucrat may not understand any aspect of why people are drawn to investigate what is unknown. Sadly, even those faculty who were creative often lose their abilities in the confined life of a world with numerous niches and success steps.

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  7. p3driverComment by p3driver
    July 18, 2013 @ 1:22 pm

    She will bring nothing to the table but problems. And bias. As if colleges aren’t already spawning beds for liberalism. If they higher her, then “higher education” just became a misleading title.

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  8. JDZComment by JDZ
    July 18, 2013 @ 1:28 pm

    So, here we have some liberals in California complaining about Napolitano’s immigration policies and how that is why she should not run the UC system while others complain about her lack of experience in academia as why she should not have the job. I find this very interesting. I wonder how many of these people were concerned about the election of a person to the most complex executive position in the world as our President who had never held a real job, never spent one day in the military, never created a budget or managed any kind of enterprise of any size in the private economy, never hired or fired anybody, and has no real expertise in anything other then community organizing, and was essentially a limited experienced politician. They preferred someone who routinely demonstrates he is totally in over his head as compared to one of the most accomplished and successful senior executives with both private and public executive experience to ever run for President in Mitt Romney.

    So, tell me how smart those running our higher educational system really are?

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    • middlegroundComment by middleground
      July 18, 2013 @ 3:56 pm

      I think you’d find a variety of political opinions among the faculty depending on their specialty, but government has been using Title IX to force universities to hire women in “any department where they are not the majority”. I’m sure they have been equally aggressive in altering the makeup of faculty in other directions, but it is rare this political interference creeps out from under a rug of PC propaganda. The special interest groups that now run higher education through their representative do not have the best interests of the students, the education mission or the nation in mind. just their own narrow vision of what they want advocated.

      Twenty five years ago there were not enough American graduate students on engineering to furnish faculty in the future and it has not been good for this country’s future or its industries,

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  9. ctv6Comment by ctv6
    July 18, 2013 @ 4:49 pm

    Woo Hoo. The Mexican illegals are attacking their best friend! “Stupid is as stupid does.”

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  10. FreeDameComment by FreeDame
    July 20, 2013 @ 10:59 am

    I can’t believe the immigration idiots don’t absolutely LOVE her. After all, she did everything but hold illegals’ hands and walk them across the border herself. Don’t these people have any sense of gratitude? Or maybe, since so many of them don’t speak English, they don’t understand the issue.

    In any event, wouldn’t it be funny if the America-hating troglodyte gave up her high-power government job and then DIDN’T GET her cushy new position? That one could keep me laughing for a week!

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