University of California

By Larry Gordon
July 15, 2013, 5:32 p.m.

The nomination of Janet Napolitano, the U.S. secretary of Homeland Security and former governor of Arizona, to be UC president has elicited many positive comments about how her managerial and political skills can help the university system. But some skeptics are voicing concerns about her lack of education administrative credentials and question the secretive process that led to her selection.

Her nomination was approved by a 10-member committee of UC regents and remained a tight secret until it was announced Friday, without the chance for advance public comment. The UC regents will vote on her nomination Thursday in public session but approval is thought to be a done deal.

In contrast, in some other states, the search for university presidents is more open and finalists’ names are released well in advance, although some experts say that scares away some good candidates.

The Daily Bruin, UCLA’s student newspaper, tackled that issue of transparency in an editorial and urged the 10-campus UC system to explain how Napolitano came to be chosen in a process that, it contends, has “left the public and the UC community in the dark throughout the search.”

The newspaper urged “university administrators to provide further explanation of how they picked an individual with no experience in California politics and no familiarity with its public universities. We hope the regents will also make public the names of other finalists for the position and will explain, in detail, the intent behind their decision and the specific qualities they believe make Napolitano the best fit for the UC.”

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