Napolitano’s UC nomination a ‘political placement’

Janet Napolitano Center for American ProgressFromFlickr

Out of a potential pool of more than 300 candidates, Department of Homeland Security Secretary and former Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano was unanimously nominated to fill in the shoes of retiring UC President Mark Yudof. The UC Board of Regents will vote Thursday on her appointment. If approved, Napolitano will be the 20th president of the UC system and first woman to lead in its 145-year history.

UC Regent Sherry Lansing chaired a 10-member special search committee, by which Napolitano was recommended in a unanimous vote. In a statement, Lancing called Napolitano “a distinguished and dedicated public servant who has earned trust at the highest, most critical levels of our country’s government. She has proven herself to be a dynamic, hard-working and transformative leader.”

California Community Colleges Chancellor Brice W. Harris issued a statement echoing similar sentiments of praise:

“The nomination of Secretary Napolitano to become the next president of the University of California is a truly inspired choice worthy of this great system of higher education. Her focus on education as governor of Arizona and the skills and leadership she has demonstrated as Homeland Security secretary make her uniquely qualified to lead the University of California.”

Even Gov. Jerry Brown said Napolitano had “strength of character and an outsider’s mind that will well serve the students and faculty” and that it would be “exciting to work with her.” Which is rather interesting, considering he criticized the trend of hiring out-of-state presidents in 2011, and wanted UC and CSU officials to specifically seek out Californians.

Napolitano’s lack of academic experience

Contrast that with the reaction of former state senator and education reformer Gloria Romero, who said she was “stunned” upon hearing the news. Romero told me the nomination was a “political placement” and “not wise for the UC system.” The University of California system, she said, is a “premiere institute of research scholarship and faculty.”

“I admire her for what she’s done,” Romero said of Napolitano. “She was a governor and did oversee the University of Arizona system, but this is the UC system.”

Romero questioned Napolitano’s credentials and said the UC president should be someone that would be qualified to oversee “the collaboration and development of curriculum, the training and appreciation for research, and equipping the next generation of scholars.”

She pointed to Charles Reed, the former chancellor of the California State University system, whose tenure, she said, was “always very contentious” because of his minimal ability to “understand or appreciate the role of faculty in the development of curriculum.”

When I asked former UC Regent Ward Connerly of the American Civil Liberties Institute if he thought Secretary Napolitano was qualified to oversee the UC system, he simply said, “Doubtful.”

“There is no evidence that she has any academic experience,” he said of Napolitano. “Faculty often insist on someone that has academic experience.”

Indeed, Napolitano’s credentials fall far short of current UC President Mark Yudof and those before him.

Yudof came to the UC system after being chancellor of the University of Texas system from 2002 to 2008. Before that, he was president of the four-campus University of Minnesota system during 1997-2008. He was also a faculty member and administrator at the University of Texas at Austin for 26 years and dean of its law school from 1984 to 1994, as well as the university’s executive vice president and provost from 1994 to 1997.

Robert C. Dynes, the UC president before Yudof, was a professor of physics at the UC Berkeley during his tenure from 2003 to 2008. He was also the chancellor for UC San Diego from 1996 to 2003, and had been a part of the UC system since 1990.

Former UC President Richard C. Atkinson served before Dynes from 1995 to 2003 and had been chancellor of UC San Diego for 15 years. He was also the former director of the National Science Foundation, past president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, former chair of the Association of American Universities, and a long-term member of the faculty at Stanford University.

These picks were all clear-cut academics. But the closest that Secretary Napolitano comes to these UC presidents is that she has a law degree. She has no research under her belt, no experience overseeing any academic systems, never taught a college class and isn’t even a native of California, even though proponents of Napolitano’s nomination say that, as governor of Arizona, she was focused “extensively on education.”

Playing politics with UC nomination

What we’re actually seeing, said Ward Connerly, is a “revolving door with academia and Democrat institutions.”

“If you go back and look at the Clinton era, for example,” he told me, “a number of academics were appointed in the second term of Clinton’s administration to prominent university positions.”

And it’s no secret the UC regents and faculty have been very supportive of Obama and his academic policies.

In fact, UC Regent Sherry Lansing, former CEO of Paramount Pictures and head of the search for the incoming UC president, had donated $1,000 to Barack Obama as early as 2004. She’s given hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Democrat Party, its candidates and its PACs.

The nomination looks like a win-win for the Obama administration, as Napolitano, who has become entrenched in scandals on sexual discrimination, immigration enforcement, the Boston bombings and downplaying terrorism, steps down from her post in the Department of Homeland Security. Additionally, Politico notes, her resignation gives Obama “major leeway” to pick a new DHS secretary without needing any Republican support, if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid follows through with his threat to go ‘nuclear’ and change filibuster rules.

It makes you wonder, asked Gloria Romero, “What is she doing? Who called whom? Who negotiated what and how did they place her? With these scandals brewing, it just doesn’t make sense.”

Ward Connerly told me it was “hard to say if faculty would oppose” such a nomination, or if the academic senate would respect her at all. “UC needs someone adept at bringing outside financial support,” he said. “While we seem to have turned a corner on the economy, UC is not out of the woods yet.”

The special session to vote on Secretary Napolitano’s nomination occurs Thursday, July 18, at 1:45 pm.

(Katie Hillery contributed research to this article.)


Write a comment
  1. stolson
    stolson 16 July, 2013, 09:36

    re-It makes you wonder, asked Gloria Romero, “What is she doing? Who called whom? Who negotiated what and how did they place her? With these scandals brewing, it just doesn’t make sense.”

    I was thinking the same thing. Will she bring in money? Turn the entire campus environments into radical leftism. Insuring illegals turned legals get free tuition??? They are already into pro Obama policies regarding anything as it is. There are few jobs in CA other than govt services from city, county, state. Why not eliminate a few campuses? Her salary is large(I can imagine the perks). I just don’t believe she was the best candidate for educational leadership.

    Reply this comment
  2. Steve Mehlman
    Steve Mehlman 16 July, 2013, 10:05

    This from the people who brought you two movie actors as governors. It’s only “political” when it’s Democrats getting appointed, eh? LOL

    Reply this comment
  3. jimmydeeoc
    jimmydeeoc 16 July, 2013, 10:29

    Mehlman’s Moronic Musings…….

    Governors are elected, Stevie baby.

    Connerly’s questions re: faculty support spark an idea. Why not let the UC Faculty decide? Put it to a vote. Out of potential pool of 300, somehow I doubt if Big Sis would rise to the top.

    Reply this comment
  4. Rex the Wonderdog!
    Rex the Wonderdog! 16 July, 2013, 13:32

    The FIX was in!

    Reply this comment
  5. Steve Mehlman
    Steve Mehlman 16 July, 2013, 14:14

    The point, jimbo, is whether or not they are “qualified”. But of course you think that Arnold was more qualified to be governor than Ms. Napolitano is to be UC President because Arnold was a Republican.

    I should have said: It’s only “political” when it’s Democrats getting appointed or elected, eh?

    But OMG, you actually have enough confidence in the UC faculty, which you and your buds have described for years as “Socialist, radical, Leftist, etc., etc.” to allow them to choose the new Prez. Watch out, Jimmy baby, the Tea Party may be coming for you with torches and pitchforks as we speak.

    Reply this comment
  6. Hondo
    Hondo 16 July, 2013, 14:55

    First thing she is gonna do is clamp down on freedom of speech. Such as; you can’t call the prophet Mohammed a pedophile. Even though that’s written in the Koran. The first amendment has gonna go. The 4th is all ready gone.

    Reply this comment
  7. Rex the Wonderdog!
    Rex the Wonderdog! 16 July, 2013, 15:26

    This from the people who brought you two movie actors as governors. It’s only “political” when it’s Democrats getting appointed, eh? LOL
    Steve, you are wearing those rose colored glasses too tight, they’re affecting your noogin~!!!!!!

    Reply this comment
  8. Rex the Wonderdog!
    Rex the Wonderdog! 16 July, 2013, 15:27

    BW, numerous professors have called this sham out, she has no academic experience, and as one said academia is 180 degrees away from Homeland security, another gov workfare job she was gifted

    Reply this comment
  9. jimmydeeoc
    jimmydeeoc 16 July, 2013, 15:53

    Stevie baby- you’re ridiculously hyper-partisan, as usual.

    1. I was never a big fan of Arnie. I will admit to supporting his reformation attempts shortly after gaining office, but when the Union machine insured their defeat he just crawled into a hole like a girly-man for the rest of his time in office. (And gosh, aren’t we all glad we didn’t put any of those reforms into effect? By this time our state finances might actually have a pulse, instead of a toe-tag).

    2. No doubt the Leftists would have elected one of their own. I get that. But at least it would be their choice…one they could live with, and whose decisions they might be more respectful of when harder times come (and in the fantasy world of academia, that’s a very sure bet.)

    Check out Walter Russell Mead, who is certainly no doctrinaire conservative, for some tea-leaf reading.

    Reply this comment
  10. Steele, Ted, When only the very best will do!
    Steele, Ted, When only the very best will do! 16 July, 2013, 15:55

    LOl— you republibaggers are just a caution! She is OVER qualified for the job– get a life!

    Reply this comment
  11. Rex the Wonderdog!
    Rex the Wonderdog! 16 July, 2013, 16:47

    Teddy, she is as over qualified as you are intelligent!!! The bar has to
    be set pretty low

    Reply this comment
  12. Bill - San Jose
    Bill - San Jose 16 July, 2013, 17:07

    This is where all liberal junkies end up … on the staff at a UC school to get that pension fattened up while they indoctrinate another generation.

    GGs ….

    Reply this comment
  13. us citizen
    us citizen 16 July, 2013, 18:08

    Why on earth does Ca attract all the nut cases in politics……..feinstein, boxer, pelosi, and now her. Someone must be putting something in the water around here.

    Reply this comment
  14. Paula
    Paula 16 July, 2013, 20:42

    So do you suppose she’s going to be the next California Governor? That’s the word I hear.

    Reply this comment
  15. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 16 July, 2013, 21:00

    You deserve her….fitting new hire for ever changing academic enviro……never recalls anything…..perfect fit!

    Reply this comment
  16. SKF
    SKF 16 July, 2013, 22:05

    This is clearly a political appointment, and even the UAW released a statement against the appointment –that was done without public input. Almost all of the UC Regents were appointed by Gov. Schwarzenegger, and have many more years to serve. Almost all are from Southern California, reflect a similar age range, and as a group –they are a pretty homogenous one, which is ironic given that the UC system espouses itself as a bastion of “diversity.” In many ways, the group reminds of “the club” that the UC Regents used to be in another era: that of the time prior to the first term of a very much younger Governor Brown . Historically, his relationship with the UC Regents has never been very good. And while he has lambasted them even recently, he also appointed some of the best –and the worst, regents during his first tenure as Governor. However, he won’t have that chance now, as most as serving well into 2020.

    I don’t see any smoothing of the road between Brown and Napolitano. I do wish he’d back up his most recent criticism about “fly-in” chancellors, of which Napolitano most definitely can be described.
    THURSDAY is the day the UC Regents meets to confirm. I can only hope that there will be massive protests, however, I don’t see both the right and the left and the middle rising together in time to staunch the confirmation. I think it will be –business as usual.
    Here are regents:

    Reply this comment
  17. Ed - San Jose
    Ed - San Jose 16 July, 2013, 23:27

    How do we contact the Regents if we want to express our opposition to this appointment?

    Reply this comment
  18. The Africanized Swarm of Ted Steele System
    The Africanized Swarm of Ted Steele System 17 July, 2013, 07:00

    Former Gov of a state and administrator of a very large chunk of the government? She is well qualified for this post== leadership and management is the gig……that’s exactly what she does…….the clowns out here don’t like her because she’s an Obama person……more tea party-baggy-nonsense…..zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz——-they would have LOVED Palin in the job!

    Reply this comment
  19. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 17 July, 2013, 08:27

    “I admire her for what she’s done,” Romero said of Napolitano. “She was a governor and did oversee the University of Arizona system, but this is the UC system.” –

    I thought that the red State of AZ was the one all you rightists emulated! Gloria Romero is a, “DINO”.

    Reply this comment
  20. SKF
    SKF 17 July, 2013, 11:07

    This is someone who is being placed in the position to ram through a political agenda of either someone on the UC Regents, or a political body closely aligned with it. She is NOT qualified, has NO academic experience, has never taught a class, overseen a college or university, in essence, it’s as if she were an outsider coming into perform surgery on a patient that has several life threatening conditions.

    I think the best assessment came from here:
    “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.”

    Read more here:

    Reply this comment
  21. Rex the Wonderdog!
    Rex the Wonderdog! 17 July, 2013, 14:20

    Former Gov of a state and administrator of a very large chunk of the government?

    LOL….yes, of which a progressive surrender monkey could do bot… with their eyes closed, heck even Teddy could when there is no P&L to measure 😉

    Reply this comment
  22. UCGraduate
    UCGraduate 18 July, 2013, 18:47

    As a UC graduate, this turns my stomach. She is an evil thug who has done nothing but suppress freedom.

    Reply this comment

Write a Comment

Leave a Reply

Related Articles

In reform showdown, who does Obama administration target? Disabled CA students

During the budget theater of recent months, the Obama administration’s ruthless determination to make cuts hurt the public was on

CA tests 4-year community college plan

On the heels of a high-profile presidential push for free community college, California has committed to an expansion program for

Supreme Court’s affirmative-action debate puts focus on UC’s shabby history

Oct. 11, 2012 By Chris Reed The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments Wednesday in Fisher v. the University of Texas, the