SAN FRANCISCO -- The UC regents on Thursday confirmed U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano as the next president of the 10-campus system during a sometimes rowdy meeting marked by a protest from students and others who contend Napolitano expanded deportations of undocumented immigrants.
The regents set Naplitano's salary at $570,000 a year, which is $21,000 less than the pay for current UC president Mark G. Yudof and avoids a political furor about executive pay inflation. But it still will be a big raise for Napolitano, who is paid about $200,000 a year as a Cabinet member. She also will receive free housing in a UC-leased house, $8,916 a year for car expenses and $142,500 for one-time relocation costs.
In a brief statement to the regents, Napolitano said she was honored and humbled by the vote and described the University of California as "the backbone of the state and a beacon for the nation and the world."
She went out of her way to emphasize that she's been an advocate of administrative changes to allow undocumented students to remain in the United States.
She said she has much to learn about the UC system. "Perhaps the most important thing that I will bring with me to California is my ears. I have much to learn about the University of California and I intend to listen."
About 25 protesters, chanting such slogans as "Education, not Deportation," interrupted the regents' meeting before the vote on the former Arizona governor's nomination as president.
One young man was apprehended by UC police as he tried to leap over the rope separating the audience from the regents. Four others then stood and kept shouting against Napolitano's nomination until UC police handcuffed them and forced them out of the room. The meeting then resumed, after what had been about a 15-minute interruption, all before Napolitano entered the meeting room in San Francisco.
Only student regent Cinthia Flores voted against the nomination, saying that too many students and others live in daily fear of deportation because of federal policies on immigration.
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom said he admired Napolitano's record as a leader in Arizona and Washington and emphasized that her experience with immigration issues and her advocacy of reform will make her especially sensitive to concerns of undocumented students.
"I think we are lucky to have her and I think she is going to do an exceptionally good job,"' he said.