UC President Janet Napolitano announces resignation after 6 years

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Updated 9/18/2019: this article has been updated with more information from a statement by ASUC External Affairs Vice President and UC Student Association president Varsha Sarveshwar.

UC President Janet Napolitano announced that she will step down from her position by Aug. 1, 2020 during Wednesday’s UC Board of Regents meeting. 

Napolitano was appointed in 2013 as the 20th UC president, after a four-year term as U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security. She made the announcement during Wednesday’s open board meeting, after which other members of the board were allowed to give comment on her resignation.

“My years with the UC have shown me the monumental power of higher education,” Napolitano said during the meeting. “Long after I leave this job, I will continue to fight for public higher education because I’m a staunch believer in its ability to change lives for the better.”

Her appointment was heavily controversial, and during her time as UC president, the UC has increased tuition multiple times, increased enrollment numbers and sued the Trump administration over the repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act, or DACA.

Prior to Wednesday’s open board meeting, the regents held a closed session meeting on “personnel matters” regarding California Education Code 92032, section b7. This section of the California Education Code refers to the UC Regents’ ability to hold closed session meetings on the topic of employment and compensation packages for specific administrators, while the final action on such topics must be taken in an open meeting.

“President Napolitano was the first president to regularly meet with students — and in that spirit, we encourage the Regents’ Special Committee to work with us in the coming months to select a bold, visionary President who will join us to fight for the best that public higher education can be,” said Varsha Sarveshwar, ASUC External Affairs Vice President and UC Student Association President, in a press statement.

Sarveshwar acknowledged in her statement Napolitano’s leadership through forming the UC systemwide Title IX office, and increasing transfer student enrollment, among other topics. She also noted how “the past six years have been a tumultuous time,” highlighting certain challenges that the university has faced, such as student housing and food insecurity.

After Napolitano’s announcement, UC Board of Regents Chair John Pérez said at the meeting that he will announce the formation of a president search committee within the next few days.

Napolitano will return to teach at the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley — where she is currently a tenured professor — after she steps down in 2020, according to a UC press release.

“It has been an incredible honor and privilege to serve as president and I’m looking forward to a very productive year at the end of my presidency,” Napolitano said during the meeting.

Contact Amanda Bradford, Sakura Cannestra and Julie Madsen at [email protected].