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Opposition rises to Janet Napolitano as next UC president

Objection is mounting to the nomination of Janet Napolitano as the next University of California president, with students and immigration activists planning to protest against her at Thursday's meeting of the governing Board of Regents in San Francisco.
As the head of the national Department of Homeland Security, Napolitano is the face of the nation's immigration policy, a role that is making her unpopular with some UC activists. In her first two years as Homeland Security secretary, the United States deported more undocumented immigrants than ever before, the federal government announced in 2011. She also oversaw the so-called "Secure Communities" program that allows law enforcement and immigration officials to share fingerprints of arrestees.
While she wouldn't be the first politician in the country to take the reins of a university, some California faculty are unhappy that someone with a thin academic background is in line to take UC's top job.

"Napolitano is contrary to every other president that UC has ever had. It seems to be a sign that they want to make a change, but it's not clear what that direction is," said William Drummond, a professor at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism.

The UC Board of Regents has become a corporate dominated body that increasingly approaches it's responsibilities as though it is running a profit making business rather than a public educational institution. In the face of class cuts and steep tuition increases they have continued to insist on the necessity of paying executives salaries and benefits comparable to those on Wall St. They think that they are in competition with Goldman Sachs for the best talent. In their eyes Napolitano's qualifications are determined by her connections to the security state and not by any academic expertise.

There is a similar trend underway at many other top tier educational institutions. It reflects the shift in perspective on the purpose of an educational institution. Instead of seeing it as an investment in human capital for tomorrow, it must now takes it place as a cog in the neoliberal globalized corporate state.

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Comment Preferences

  •  UC (3+ / 0-)

    I once worked there.  Fine place.

    Having said that, it was also the place that tenured one of the authors of the Bush torture defense, leading to questions about what passes for their moral turpitude rule.

    Restore the Fourth! Save America!

    by phillies on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 07:45:25 AM PDT

  •  Running the best state Uni system like WALMART (5+ / 0-)

    Because why not. Slash staff and services, raise tuition til the kids' parents squeal, use the $$$ to build more stadiums and important stuff like that, and hire more people from the Beltway-Corporate circle jerk to run it all (into the ground).

  •  I liked Napolitano as Governor (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    quill, gooderservice, FG, wu ming, ca democrat

    She was about the best we could hope for here in Arizona.

    That said, I can understand the opposition; she's always been anti-immigration.  She famously sent the Arizona National Guard to "secure the border".  She also supported Arpaio in his immigration sweeps when she was state Attorney General, earning his endorsement when she ran for Governor.

    I'd take her over any Arizona Republican, but I can see where she's not the best fit for California.

    To believe that markets determine value is to believe that milk comes from plastic bottles. Bromley (1985)

    by sneakers563 on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 08:39:13 AM PDT

  •  good for them (0+ / 0-)

    It is never a shock to see student activists protesting something about the UC system, now is it? It would be much more shocking if there were no such protests.

    from your link

    She would be the first woman – and the first career politician – to head California's premier system of higher education.

    ...

    "The president is (at the Capitol) a lot and is the first person anyone in the Legislature is going to call when they want to talk about the University of California," Powell said. For that reason, he said, a political president makes sense.

    The site mentioned in the article is not even a site. No info at all there about the "protest".

    This is hardly a massive uprising against her. Time will show whether it is a good fit or not.

    Global warming & smoking cigarettes = Nothing to worry about? Those who deny climate science are ignorant, evil or worse. Google Fred Singer.

    by LaughingPlanet on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 08:45:58 AM PDT

    •  How can a politician with little to no (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ca democrat

      education background be a better fit than someone who has been in the academic arena all their lives? Why does she get a chance to screw things up by banking on her inability? Shouldn't the bet be a little bit stronger for someone with a background in education due to the propensity in damage that can be done by the wrong person in there? I think I'd lean on the side of caution rather than let a politician who feels they deserve these types of seats wing it.

      •  yeah, cuz (0+ / 0-)

        the last several dozens of years of men with education backgrounds as UCOP Prez were so perfect you want to avoid change at all costs?

        i just think she is a good person who deserves a chance to do something before being run out of town.

        Global warming & smoking cigarettes = Nothing to worry about? Those who deny climate science are ignorant, evil or worse. Google Fred Singer.

        by LaughingPlanet on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 12:54:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  UC has been circling the drain for a long time (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FG, ca democrat

    and there as been a steady stream of head in the clouds academics in charge while it has done so.  

    They had that senile guy that wore a tam for the longest time, and nobody could get him out.

    It really is time to take another tack -- instead of hiring more of the same,  they need a no nonsense, crack the whip nerd herder.

    They have lacked a good accounting/management system forever.   When my daughter attended, it would take them six months or more to cash my tuition checks, this during a time when, if deposited immediately to a bank, they would earn 5 or 6 percent interest.  

    They still don't have financial reports to really show where they are spending, where they are making, where they need to focus expenditures!    They don't know what anything really costs.  

    Even after the big scandals about overpayment and off the books compensation and nepotism  for a lot of their top administrators and employees,  there were continued over reimbursements for housing, cars, expense reports.  Still a problem.  All those really smart academics use their noodles to get paid what they think they are worth.  

    All the Nobel recipients are worried they will have to actually demonstrate production of value rather than sit on their cushy laureates.

    As for deportations, that was her job, she was supposed to enforce the laws on the books, not make up new ones as she went along!   If people don't like the laws, they should have their representatives change them.  

    •  the academics have been frozen out of governance (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ca democrat, LaughingPlanet

      for decades now. the UC has been at the mercies of bankers, insurance execs,. and corporate management types, who screw students and faculty and staff while paying themselves hundreds of thousands out of our tuition dollars and using us as collateral for construction loans, promising to wall street that  they'll push more austerity on campus in exchange for good bond ratings.

      you're blaming the wrong people. the academics are the ones getting screwed here, shut out of input for well over a decade of permanent emergency.

      •  Check the earnings of some of these academics --- (0+ / 0-)

        those at the top are making as much or more than our captains of industry, consult and earn on the side, have other people actually teach their classes, and have a lot of time to travel around, with very little supervision or accountability.   They live pretty well.

        Those on the second tier, and the grunt ta's in the trenches, yes, I agree, are treated like dirt, or worse.  

        I've worked and observed in a number of different work environments, and the politics in academe is indeed as vicious as any.  If anyone can make the UC system work, it will be her.

        Did you see on the tv tonight that she refused the same salary as Yudof took?  She's taking the job for ten percent less......  a nice gesture, at least.

        •  she's taking $570,000 a year plus lavish benefits (0+ / 0-)

          at the very same time that the UC regents are telling everyone else that there's no money for any non-administrators. triple the salary from her last job at department of homeland security. she took $20,000 less than than yudof, but that salary was already absurdly inflated. the vast, vast majority of employees of the UC make a fucking fraction of that. she makes in a month what most profs, almost all staff, and every single immiserated adjunct and grad student make in a goddamn year.

          the problem at the UC isn;t academic politics, it is that the administrative caste pays itself handsomely from the till while starving everyone in the university out, while a bunch of bankers and CEOs appointed as regents run the whole thing as a for-profit racket. department politics are not a part of this, and it is disingenuous to point to a law prof and a biotech prof here and there to muddy the stark reality of what they've made the UC into.

  •  why? Stephen Chu is the best choice, period. (0+ / 0-)

    Napolitano would not even be able to bring MIC $ in

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013

    by annieli on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 10:32:23 AM PDT

  •  the conservative regents are screwing with the WH (0+ / 0-)
    The UC Board of Regents has become a corporate dominated body that increasingly approaches it's responsibilities as though it is running a profit making business rather than a public educational institution. In the face of class cuts and steep tuition increases they have continued to insist on the necessity of paying executives salaries and benefits comparable to those on Wall St. They think that they are in competition with Goldman Sachs for the best talent. In their eyes Napolitano's qualifications are determined by her connections to the security state and not by any academic expertise.

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013

    by annieli on Wed Jul 17, 2013 at 10:33:52 AM PDT

  •  Welcome to our cruel world (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ca democrat, LaughingPlanet

    Don’t know if you seek to express your feelings, like many protestors of the Zimmerman verdict, or to change things for the better, which is a slow process.
    I’m a UCLA professor, I want to improve the UC system, but we must start by looking at the current situation and where we might get more money in the future. Wealthy donors dominate regents or governing bodies of all our universities; many UC regents have donated to gubernatorial campaigns. Janet Napolitano was picked after a search run by a commercial executive search firm; the UC insists on keeping the names of other candidates who were considered and thought to be available secret.

    I would have preferred an educator, a person who has been a university professor. I don’t think that the gender of the President is important- we have some very competent female Ivy League Presidents. You are wrong to think that JN’s views on immigration were considered or would matter to the regents. A long term vigorous President can have a real impact, but many presidents are ground down by the severe pressures that they face, and quit after a few years. JN was a college valedictorian, her father was a medical school dean, I’m sure that she is pro-university. She seems to have done a good job as governor of Arizona. If she stays in the job for 8-10 years, she can gradually make a difference, but remember that a future governor can get rid of her, just as Reagan (no, we don’t need solar panels on the White House) got rid of the great builder Clark Kerr. The identity of future California governors is important. If you live in California and have wealthy friends, you may be able to influence that.  If you don’t have wealthy friends, it’s much harder to influence California politics or any group that has more than 30 million members, maybe if you launched a decent radio or TV station.

    California K-12 education is in such bad shape that it’s hard to see future substantial increases in state funding. My salary has been cut, UC humanities slashed, but I agree that more money for K-12 education is critical.
    Some people are against JN because she never married and has no children. She says that she’s a straight workaholic. Who cares about her sexual orientation? Too many Americans eagerly funnel money to University athletic departments and are anti-science. They don’t know or care that the average spending per student in the big Universities, including the UC, has been falling for years and that spending per student athlete is now about 6 times as much as per real student. Athletic departments are tax-exempt; almost none of them give any money to the academic part of their school.  A University Prez must be very respectful to the AD and major coaches. If you work to increase respect for science, that can help.

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