Napolitano starts UC presidency, promises to listen and learn

U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano gives her farewell speech at the National Press Club in Washington on Aug. 27, 2013. She begins her new job as president of the University of California system on Monday.
(Saul Loeb / AFP/Getty Images)

Janet Napolitano begins her new job as University of California president Monday, promising to “listen and learn” about the many issues facing the sprawling 10-campus university system.

Napolitano, who recently resigned as U.S. secretary of Homeland Security and previously was governor of Arizona, is scheduled to begin her first work day Monday at the Oakland headquarters of the UC system.

During her first couple of weeks, she will review budgets and operations and meet with students, faculty, staff, campus chancellors, state elected officials and others, according to UC spokesman Steve Montiel. She will greet the headquarters staff at a reception Monday afternoon.


Napolitano has stressed that “her first priority is to listen and learn so that she can get a firm grounding in issues, opportunities and challenges affecting the University of California’s campuses, medical enterprise, affiliated national laboratories and agricultural and natural resources services,” Montiel said.

The new UC chief, the first woman to hold that position, will not be giving any press interviews for a couple of weeks, he said.

Among the issues on her plate will be opposition from the union representing custodians, gardeners and food service workers to increases in the amounts employees are required to pay into retirement plans. Other topics include pressure from Gov. Jerry Brown to keep undergraduate tuition flat next year for the third year in a row. And some student leaders remain critical of how Napolitano’s federal agency handled deportations of immigrants who had entered the country illegally.

Napolitano will be paid $570,000 a year and will live in a leased home paid for by the university system. She succeeds Mark G. Yudof, who retired after five years as UC president and is becoming a law professor at UC Berkeley.


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