University of California regents today confirmed the nomination of President Barack Obama's Secretary of Homeland Security as the next president of the 10-campus UC system.
Janet Napolitano will take the reins of UC in late September, earning annual salary of $570,000 in addition to an annual car allowance of $8,916 and a one-time moving allowance of $142,500.
Her salary is $21,000 less than that of outgoing UC President Mark Yudof. Regent Bonnie Reiss said that UC offered to match Yudof's salary but that Napolitano wanted to make a statement by taking a lesser amount. As Secretary of Homeland Security she earns just under $200,000 a year.
Napolitano, 55, becomes the first woman to run UC in its 145-year history. But it is her background in politics, and her role overseeing the nation's immigration policy, that drew the most criticism from UC students.
Napolitano, a Democrat, was the governor and attorney general of Arizona before Obama tapped her for his cabinet in 2009. In heading the Department of Homeland Security, Napolitano has been the face of U.S. immigration policy during a period when the government deported a record number of undocumented immigrants. Students from Indonesia, Mexico and other countries told regents that Napolitano's policies had ripped their families apart with deportations.
"You cannot understand what it means to appoint Janet Napolitano for office until it gets to your dinner table, until you look into your mother's eyes and you see fear for her daughter.... And she's asking herself if immigrant students of color are going to be safe at the university," UC Irvine student Andrea Gaspar said in addressing the regents.
Student regent Cynthia Flores voted against Napolitano's nomination, saying she has instilled fear in many immigrant homes. Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who sits on the board of regents, said he was enthusiastic about Napolitano's leadership at UC, but also said that concerns about her role in immigration policy "have validity."
Gov. Jerry Brown is traveling in Europe and did not attend the meeting but expressed support for Napolitano after she was nominated for the post.