Goldman School of Public Policy - University of California, Berkeley

Janet Napolitano

Professor of Public Policy; President, University of California

Areas of Expertise

  • Education
  • Leadership and Management
  • Politics

Biography

Janet Napolitano was named the 20th president of the University of California on July 18, 2013, and took office on Sept. 30, 2013.

Since then, she has launched initiatives to stabilize tuition; enhance community college transfers; provide financial support for undocumented students to put them on equal financial-aid footing with other students; achieve carbon neutrality across the UC system by 2025; expand opportunities for advanced degrees; increase support for new and future faculty members through post-doctoral fellowships; speed translation of UC research into products and services; improve services for student veterans; focus UC resources on local and global food issues; and strengthen engagement with Mexico.

She leads a university system with 10 campuses, five medical centers, three affiliated national laboratories, and a statewide agriculture and natural resources program. The UC system has more than 238,000 students, about 202,000 faculty and staff, more than 1.7 million living alumni and an annual operating budget of more than $25 billion.

President Napolitano is a distinguished public servant with a record of leading large, complex organizations at the federal and state levels. She served as Secretary of Homeland Security from 2009-13, as Governor of Arizona from 2003-09, as Attorney General of Arizona from 1998-2003, and as U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona from 1993-97. Before that, she practiced at the law firm of Lewis & Roca in Phoenix, where she became a partner in 1989. She began her career in 1983 as a clerk for Judge Mary M. Schroeder of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. As Governor of Arizona, Napolitano focused on education, from pre-kindergarten through public higher education. She was the first woman to chair the National Governors Association, and was named one of the nation’s top five governors by Time magazine.

Napolitano earned a B.S. degree (summa cum laude in Political Science) in 1979 from Santa Clara University, where she was Phi Beta Kappa, a Truman Scholar, and the university’s first female valedictorian. She received her law degree in 1983 from the University of Virginia School of Law. Napolitano holds honorary degrees from several universities and colleges, including Emory University. Pomona College, and Northeastern University. In 2010, she was awarded the prestigious Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal (Law), the University of Virginia’s highest external honor.