SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – Outgoing Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was confirmed Thursday as the next president of the University of California amid protests both outside and inside the meeting at the UC San Francisco, Mission Bay campus.
Police handcuffed and removed at least four protesters who disrupted a University of California regents meeting while urging the board not to approve Napolitano as the school system’s next president.
Police cuffed the protesters with zip ties after they refused to leave the room when university police declared an unlawful assembly. Dozens of others did leave after shouting and disrupting the meeting.
PHOTOS: UC Board Elects Napolitano
The meeting resumed after the protesters were removed.
Outside the meeting, students wary that an administration official responsible for deportations under the Secure Communities program demonstrated alongside alumni and others concerned Napolitano did not have a background in education.
“My family is undocumented and Janet Napolitano has been an enemy of undocumented immigrants in this country,” said UC Berkeley student Rosa Hernandez, one of several dozen demonstrators.
Hernandez blamed Napolitano for deportations carried out by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and questioned why the former Arizona governor should head a university with a track record of helping undocumented students pursue higher education.
“It makes me upset that my tuition will be paying her wages now as UC president,” Hernandez said.
UC Regent and Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom said he thinks Napolitano’s political background could be a big asset.
“She’ll walk into Sacramento as if she’s been there for decades. Already (she has) an established relationship with the governor and legislative leaders, and (can) advocate as well or better for state funding,” said Newsom.
Napolitano was scheduled to speak with reporters after her confirmation during the afternoon session of the Regents meeting, but not expected to address issues that have been bearing down on the university such as rising tuition and how campus police manage protests.
University officials said Napolitano was chosen unanimously by a committee that reviewed more than 300 applicants to replace retiring UC President Mark Yudoff. Her tenure as the first female president of the UC system will begin in September.
Napolitano, who attended the private Santa Clara University in California as an undergraduate, has already announced her resignation from President Barack Obama’s cabinet.
In the week since she surfaced as the search committee’s choice, some faculty members have complained that she is more schooled in politics than higher education.
Several newspapers have taken issue with the secrecy surrounding Napolitano’s selection and the short time frame between the announcement and Thursday’s vote.
Napolitano, 55, will be succeeding Yudof, 68, who in 2008 became the first president from outside California to lead the UC system in two decades. He had spent 11 years leading the public universities in Minnesota and Texas.
Napolitano will make a base salary of $570,000 and get a one-time relocation fee of $142,500 and an annual auto allowance of $8,916.
Student regent Cinthia Flores cast the only vote against her appointment.
As UC president, Yudof was one of the nation’s most highly paid college administrators, earning an annual salary of $591,084 — almost triple what Napolitano makes as Homeland Security secretary—plus car and housing allowances, retirement contributions and other benefits that brought his annual compensation at more than $925,000.
Napolitano will take over at a time of improving but still serious financial challenges for the university system, including rising costs for employee salaries and retirement benefits.