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What Does Janet Napolitano’s Appointment as UC President Tell Us About the UC?


It was just announced that Janet Napolitano would resign her position as the chief of Homeland Security in order to accept a job as UC President. At first glance the first response would be to ask what in the hell does someone whose past job involved mass deportations, “anti-terrorism,” expanded drone program, and surveillance have to offer at an educational institution such as the University of California? This is a valid question. The UC, however, is not just a benign institution for education. It is an institution that generates massive amounts of wealth. The annual budget of the UC is nearly $23 billion. It is an institution deeply involved and complicit in American foreign policy (a.k.a. imperialism). It does research and development for weapons. Richard Blum, one of the UC Regents, and his wife, Senator Dianne Feinstein, are both war profiteers through their shareholding power in Perini Tutor, a construction company that was awarded contracts to build in Iraq and Afghanistan. It does R&D for corporations profiting off the devastation of other countries, such as Monsanto and British Petroleum (BP) who dumped $500 million to build a research center on the UC Berkeley campus. Simply put, the UC is deeply involved in powerful interests. Under this lens, the appointment of Napolitano makes sense. She is not there to “advance” the educational mission of the UC (an education that seems to be disintegrating at a rapid pace). She is there to maintain the UC institution’s mission as being a valuable resource in reinforcing the American state.

Napolitano is a Democrat, Don’t Forget that

Before her job as Homeland Security chief, she was elected as the Governor of Arizona under the Democratic ticket. She was appointed to the position in Homeland Security in 2009 by Democratic President Barack Obama. The Democratic Party is the current body devising and implementing American imperialism. Since Egypt is a hot topic, let’s not forget that as soon as Morsi came into power Secretary of State Hillary Clinton flew to Egypt to meet with Morsi. Secondly, Egypt’s military continues to receive the second most amount of military aid from the U.S. behind Israel. This is the military regime controlling things in Egypt right now, a regime strongly backed by US resources.

Furthermore, more related to education, the Democrats are the ones currently devising and implementing austerity projects. They are the ones closing thousands of schools throughout the country. Hundreds of them have happened in Chicago and Philadelphia alone, two cities with Democrat mayors. Here in California, and more specifically the Bay Area, they are the ones spear heading the charge to close down City College of San Francisco. The Department of Education under the Obama administration has taken a firm stance of requiring more stringent accreditation processes. In this regard, the ACCJC is not a “rogue” agency. It is merely the pawn trying to carry out the policy of the regime.  This is illustrated in San Francisco Democratic Mayor Ed Lee’s  support for the ACCJC’s in its actions to take away CCSF’s accreditation.

This is the educational project Napolitano will continue to advance. Remember here, the UC was the top contributor to Obama’s reelection campaign. California Democratic Governor Jerry Brown, announced a few months ago that the promised four year tuition freeze would actually have to be decreased to two years. Several major unions at the UC, such as AFSCME 3299, UAW 2865, and UPTE are in the middle of contract fights with the UC, which Napolitano will now assume control of. Furthermore, as an institution already with horrible admission numbers when it comes to underrepresented communities (Latin@, Black, Native American, Pacific Islander, etc.), the appointment of Napolitano, who was responsible for overseeing the most deportations in American history under the Obama administration, and the dismantling of ethnic studies in Arizona during her tenure as governor (*correction* the dismantling occurred under Napolitano’s successor Jan Brewer, but Napolitano will inherit a dismantling process of ethnic studies and similar programs that is ongoing at the UC.) does not represent a friendly face (to say the least).

Lastly, who appointed Napolitano? The UC Regents appoint the UC President. There is no public process. This ultimately means the UC President is only accountable to the UC Regents, and thus, the UC President must carry out the mission of the UC Regents. Who are these Regents? I’ll just copy and paste a quick description from the UC Regent website:

Article IX, Section 9 was drafted in 1878 after a decade of political conflict demonstrated the importance of sheltering the university from shifting political winds. The board consists of 26 members:

  • 18 regents are appointed by the governor for 12-year terms
  • One is a student appointed by the Regents to a one-year term
  • Seven are ex officio members — the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Speaker of the Assembly, Superintendent of Public Instruction, president and vice president of the Alumni Associations of UC and the UC president.

In addition, two faculty members — the chair and vice chair of the Academic Council — sit on the board as non-voting members.

Those 18 regents that are appointed are the ones that tend to make the decisions. And this is a body comprised of people with deep interests in profit. Richard Blum is a billionaire and a large investor in Career Education, which is a for-profit school corporation. Russell Gould was the former Vice President of Wachovia before it was bought out by Wells Fargo. Sherry Lansing is a former CEO of Paramount. Monica Lozano, whose term recently ended, was on the board of Bank of America. Simply put, this is not a body of educators, they are a body of profiteers. And this is the body that holds ultimate power over all of the UC’s operations, and this is the body Napolitano will answer to.Ultimately, Napolitano will be counted on to continue the privatizing project of the UC and to continue its mission of exclusivity.

Policing the Campus 

To some degree, the appointment of the former Homeland Security chief as UC President demonstrates the value that those in power see in keeping the UC “secure.” Hell, John Yoo, one of the chief architects of legalizing government torture, teaches in the law school at UC Berkeley. Infamous UC Davis Chancellor Katehi, was also a primary player in allowing police return to Greek campuses as well. Basically, the UC system is no stranger to law enforcement. In fact, the two are horrifyingly connected. One would only need to look at how each campus dealt with massive protests in 2009 and in 2011. Police with militarized gear are a presence on every UC campus, and they are not afraid to use it. In the 2009 and 2011 demonstrations accounts of brutality from the police became openly visible to the public eye. UC Berkeley even sought to purchase an armored military vehicle, which they nicknamed “BearCat,” but thankfully under massive public pressure this project was ceased. However, the only reason that BearCat was a possible idea was due to the massive inventory of military gear in the hands of the American government. In fact, Napolitano, while head of Homeland Security, purchased 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition. Napolitano’s appointment is disgusting when considering the endless budgets that American security and military institutions seem to receive, when education programs are left with dwindling scraps.

It is no shock that the UC Regents have been annoyed (at the very least) of protests against their policies in the past few years. It is also no shock, then, to see them appoint someone with a very extensive background in “security” and policing (let’s not forget this is happening in the backdrop of the NSA events). What can this mean for activists? Nothing in detail can be said for sure. I might jokingly say drones may be involved, but unfortunately, my experience with the UC demonstrates that this could be a legitimate possibility. In the end, I highly doubt Napolitano will take a “less aggressive” attitude.

Let’s end this with a quote from the LA Times to demonstrate this point: (article is here:,0,83979.story)

“UC officials believe that her Cabinet experiences –- which include helping to lead responses to hurricanes and tornadoes and overseeing some anti-terrorism measures — will help UC administer its federal energy and nuclear weapons labs and aid its federally funded research in medicine and other areas.”

Oh yeah, one more thing, UC medical centers made over $900 million in profits in 2011 alone.


Other links:

Here’s a more satirical take on the whole issue:



4 thoughts on “What Does Janet Napolitano’s Appointment as UC President Tell Us About the UC?

  1. This article is… it’s borderline incoherent. Leaping from topic to topic, sweeping unexplained or unjustified accusations, guilt by association fallacies. Just… just wow.

    Posted by Grant Crawford | July 13, 2013, 5:14 am
  2. Good piece, although ethnic studies in Arizona (specifically Mexican American Studies in Tucson schools) came down under the regime of Jan Brewer.

    Posted by Aaron B. | July 13, 2013, 3:15 pm
  3. Thanks, a very informative article.

    Posted by Robert Dunn | July 13, 2013, 3:17 pm


  1. Pingback: … the Impact of Janet Napolitano s Departure … « Lake Erie Conservative - July 14, 2013

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