University of California President Janet Napolitano announced at a UC Board of Regents meeting that she would be stepping down from her role as President following the upcoming school year on Wednesday, September 18. This comes following a six year tenure marked by numerous positive and negative newsworthy events.
In a press statement, Napolitano explained that the choice to withdraw from the presidency was a tough decision, but was ultimately the right one to make.
“I have been honored and inspired every day to serve this institution alongside incredibly dedicated, passionate people,” Napolitano said. “With many of my top priorities accomplished and the university on a strong path forward, I feel it’s the ideal time for a leadership transition — an infusion of new energy and fresh ideas at the university.”
In a press call, UC Board of Regents Chair John Perez noted that the next couple of months will involve hard work from both Napolitano and the Board, stating that the nationwide search for her replacement will begin later this week.
“My time at UC has been deeply gratifying & rewarding.”—UC President Janet Napolitano announced today that she will step down in August 2020 after seven years of leading California's preeminent public university system. https://t.co/tHuU0ZvkMd pic.twitter.com/HShpC14gat
— UC (@UofCalifornia) September 18, 2019
Responding to a question from the UCSD Guardian in a conference call, Napolitano highlighted a variety of things she hopes to accomplish in her final months in office.
“We want to increase the number of degrees awarded by 200k by 2030 and… to close graduation gaps, particularly those with students from lower income families,” Napolitano said. “We want to continue to strengthen our policies involving sexual harassment and sexual violence, [as well as] moving forward on our goal to be carbon neutral and have 100 percent renewable energy by 2025, and we want to increase the availability of student housing and meet student needs in regards to student hunger.”
During her tenure, Napolitano has led a number of nationally recognized initiatives, most notably when she led the university to sue the Department of Homeland Security in 2017 for the recission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Closer to home, Napolitano also froze in-state tuition seven times over the course of eight years.
However, not all of Napolitano’s actions have received praise. Under the Napolitano administration, the university has raised out of state tuition on numerous occasions, most recently this past May with a 2.6 percent increase, which was met by opposition from the University of California Student Association and several of the Regents.
Likewise, an unannounced visit from Napolitano to UC San Diego drew student protest after her administration had yet to reach an agreement on a labor contract with American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employee Local 3299.
Napolitano has held numerous high profile positions before becoming the President of the University of California, including serving as both governor and attorney general of Arizona, as well as being the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security under the Obama administration from 2009 through 2013. She was the 20th UC President, as well as the first woman to hold the position.
Napolitano plans to continue to support the university as a whole after her presidency comes to a close in August, 2020. While she stated in the conference call that she has no intentions of seeking further public office, she will never say that it will never happen again. For the time being, she will begin teaching at the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley in the Fall of 2021, where she currently is a tenured professor.
Photo courtesy of the University of California Office of the President.