On Jan. 18, President of the University of California Mark Yudof announced that he was stepping down, and six months later it was announced that former governor of Arizona and Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano would be taking the reins.
On Sept. 30, Napolitano will move into her Oakland office and begin her term in the University of California Office of the President (UCOP), and we are both excited and apprehensive for her new presence.
The change highlights ways in which the UC system is becoming more progressive, such as how Napolitano is the first female president since the UC’s inception 145 years ago. She is also getting paid a $570,000 base salary, which is $21,000 less than Yudof’s and 75% less than the salaries of comparable university presidents, indicating slightly more sensible spending on the UC’s part.
However, Napolitano’s professional background gives us reason to question whether she’s the right choice for the UC system. She has no experience with university education; rather, her current job experience includes political administration and national protection. While this may have nothing to with higher education, Napolitano’s experience may help her with the political aspects of this job.
Regardless of whether Napolitano’s reign will bring good or bad change, we want to make sure that, above all, she keeps the students’ interests in mind. Yudof more than doubled UC tuition during his term — we demand this doesn’t happen with Napolitano.
Furthermore, as long as Californians are paying the taxes, Californians ought to be the ones enrolled in the classes. Although we appreciate everything out-of-state and international students have done for our community, California students should be the focus of admissions. We understand that the UC is in need of money, but we believe there are better ways of financing the campuses.
We’re not the only ones unsure of Napolitano’s new seat at the top of the UC hierarchy — both UC Berkeley and UC Irvine’s student governments have recently passed “no confidence” bills against Napolitano, accompanied by a list of demands and deadlines.
We hope Janet Napolitano has a successful term prioritizing student needs. But we’ll be keeping an eye on her.