Politicians and officials were quick to issue statements on Napolitano's decision. Here's a few of their reactions:
President Barack Obama
"I want to thank Secretary Napolitano for her outstanding work on behalf of the American people over the last four years. At the Department of Homeland Security, Janet's portfolio has included some of the toughest challenges facing our country. She's worked around the clock to respond to natural disasters, from the Joplin tornado to Hurricane Sandy, helping Americans recover and rebuild. Since day one, Janet has led my administration's effort to secure our borders, deploying a historic number of resources, while also taking steps to make our immigration system fairer and more consistent with our values. And the American people are safer and more secure thanks to Janet's leadership in protecting our homeland against terrorist attacks. I've come to rely on Janet's judgment and advice, but I've also come to value her friendship. And as she begins a new chapter in a remarkable career of public service, I wish her the best of luck."
Gov. Jerry Brown
"Secretary Napolitano has the strength of character and an outsider's mind that will well serve the students and faculty. It will be exciting to work with her."
U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein
"I congratulate Secretary Napolitano on this appointment and wish her great success as she meets the many challenges and embraces the opportunities as the next president of this world-class university system. I know Secretary Napolitano to be both smart and competent--qualities she has demonstrated as Secretary of Homeland Security, an enormous organization with 22 departments and more than 240,000 employees. Her recent support for immigration reform--particularly the bipartisan Senate bill--aided its strong 68-vote passage in the Senate. As the well-respected former governor of Arizona, Secretary Napolitano will also bring to UC a distinguished record of executive experience. Janet Napolitano will make a fine president of the University of California. I welcome her to California and look forward to a new constituent."
U.S. Sen. John McCain
"Janet Napolitano has served our nation with honor over the last four years as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security - one of the toughest and most thankless jobs in Washington. We have had our share of disagreements during her time as Secretary, but I have never doubted her integrity, work ethic or commitment to our nation's security. The people of Arizona can be very proud of our former Governor's service, and I wish her all the best as she assumes leadership of the nation's largest public university system."
Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco
"Secretary Napolitano's extensive experience at all levels of government will likely serve her well in the days ahead. I hope she keeps the needs of students, faculty and staff at the forefront after years of devastating tuition increases, questionable spending priorities and a general lack of transparency throughout the UC system. I will be happy to work with her in her efforts to keep the UC's reputation as an affordable means of bringing quality education to all Californians."
Rep. Doug LaMalfa
"It's disappointing to see an individual with such a poor record on civil liberties and government transparency selected to run the University of California. University of California students can look forward to the same authoritarian management style Secretary Napolitano brought to the Department of Homeland Security, hardly a bastion of free speech and open government. While I am pleased to see her leave Homeland Security, Napolitano's views are entirely incompatible with the UC system's history of civil liberties and the decision to appoint her is perplexing."
UC Regent Sherry Lansing
"I am pleased to announce that the Special Committee has nominated Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano to serve as the 20th president of the University of California. The search for a new leader for UC was extensive, with more than 300 potential nominees reviewed. Secretary Napolitano rose to the top and received a unanimous vote of recommendation from the Special Committee.
Secretary Napolitano is a distinguished and dedicated public servant who has earned trust at the highest, most critical levels of our country's government. She has proven herself to be a dynamic, hard-working and transformative leader. As Governor of Arizona, she was an effective advocate for public education, and a champion for the life-changing opportunities that education provides. As Secretary of Homeland Security, she has been an ardent advocate for the federal Dream Act and the architect of a policy that protects from deportation young undocumented immigrants who are pursuing a college education.
Her personal story is compelling. As a student at Santa Clara University in California, she became the university's first female valedictorian, and a Truman Scholar. After earning her law degree at the University of Virginia, she was selected to clerk for Judge Mary M. Schroeder of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Her father was dean of the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. It is no coincidence that those who know her best say that a passion for education is in her DNA.
While some may consider her to be an unconventional choice, Secretary Napolitano is without a doubt the right person at the right time to lead this incredible University. She will bring fresh eyes and a new sensibility - not only to UC, but to all of California. She will stand as a vigorous advocate for faculty, students and staff at a time when great changes in our state, and across the globe, are presenting as many opportunities as challenges. A final decision on Secretary Napolitano's appointment rests with the full Board of Regents. I can say with great confidence that the Special Committee has put forward a remarkably gifted candidate."
UC Regents Chair Bruce Varner
"As Chair of the UC Board of Regents, I am pleased that Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano has been nominated to be the 20th president of the University of California. The candidate pool was strong, but Secretary Napolitano received a unanimous vote of nomination from the members of the Special Committee. Her acumen, perspective and considerable leadership experience impressed everyone who worked with her during the search process.
Under President Mark Yudof, the University of California achieved critical stability, while continuing to make great progress in its academic, research and public service missions. Secretary Napolitano possesses the leadership skills necessary to build upon President Yudof's accomplishments, and to lead UC to even higher levels.
Throughout her noteworthy career, Secretary Napolitano has built a track record for taking on and tackling the toughest of challenges. She has a reputation for seeing things through, no matter how difficult the effort. She has the intellectual curiosity, leadership qualities, personal charm and discipline needed to navigate any future challenges that await this University. I anticipate learning much from Secretary Napolitano, given her experience leading large, complex organizations.
Secretary Napolitano has expressed an eagerness to begin immersing herself in UC and the state it serves, meeting with University constituents and with all manner of Californians. She understands the unique and vital role that UC and public higher education have played in shaping our state. The Special Committee nominated an extraordinary candidate, and I look forward to working with Secretary Napolitano should she be appointed by the full Board of Regents."
UC Academic Senate Chair Robert Powell
"I am extremely pleased that the Regents' Special Committee to Consider the Selection of a President will recommend that Janet Napolitano be appointed as the next president. Secretary Napolitano has demonstrated an outstanding ability to deal with complex organizations under demanding circumstances. Crucially, she made public higher education a priority during her tenure as governor of Arizona, leading its expansion in a fast-growing state with a diverse population. Her hallmark has been promoting transparency and cutting administrative overhead, two laudable priorities all faculty will appreciate.
In my discussions with her, Secretary Napolitano clearly articulated the view that the University of California must do all it can to ensure not only that it remains the greatest public university in the world in the 21st century, but also that it moves to new heights. She is ready to use her energy and skills to enhance public support for higher education, recognizing that this commitment involves high stakes and even higher value. She has deep respect for the faculty, and she will listen to what we say. She knows that, as the core of what makes UC great, the faculty must have an environment in which they can thrive as scholars and teachers. And she is ready to engage the many challenges that face us all, such as meeting master plan obligations, promoting our research mission, diversifying our faculty and student body, and insisting on unparalleled academic excellence.
Secretary Napolitano's aspirations for UC embody the same lofty ideals that have made our 10-campus university what it is today. Her governing record, moreover, foretells success: She is famously known to work collaboratively, think strategically, and stand firm. Both as governor and as Secretary of Homeland Security, she devoted her initial efforts in office to digging into the details of the budgets. Her fiscal acumen will help lay the foundations for the budgetary planning that will protect our strategic academic goals.
Secretary Napolitano will be a faithful steward of public higher education who resists disinvestment. She shares our own dedication, as faculty stewards of this institution and its future, to guarantee that the superb educational experience of current students will be available to their children and grandchildren.
Of course, we, the faculty, must recognize that our new President cannot do her job alone. She clearly has the capacity to understand all of the parts that make up the University of California. We must engage with her, our campus administrations, our political leaders, and the public at large to help her make the case for the future of UC, as well as public higher education in California and the nation. Over the past year, the Senate has worked closely with the Office of the President to engage our political leaders. I am confident this activity will continue and, with our new president, broaden.
This appointment comes after a six-month search that deeply involved an Academic Advisory Committee (AAC) consisting of 13 faculty members representing all UC campuses. This committee had three in-person meetings with the Regents Special Committee. The AAC also met over a dozen times as a group, with three in-person meetings. Hundreds of hours were spent shifting through 319 files. All UC faculty owe a great debt to this dedicated group."
Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi
"Secretary Napolitano has been an essential partner in meeting our first responsibility as public servants: to keep the American people safe. Her strength, intellect, and dedication to duty have proven invaluable in tackling some of the toughest challenges facing our country -- from protecting our nation from attack and responding to natural disasters to securing our borders and advocating for a fairer immigration system.
The students of the University of California schools will benefit each and every day from Secretary Napolitano's sharp mind and strong leadership. These universities are a source of pride and an example of excellence in our state and across our country. From San Francisco and Berkeley to Los Angeles and San Diego, each campus contributes to the tradition of innovation, creativity, and progress that defines California and its residents. As the first woman to lead the UC system, Secretary Napolitano will offer a unique voice to this critical position.
I thank Secretary Napolitano for her service to our country. I look forward to welcoming her to California and to working together to advance the education of our state's young people."
California State University Chancellor Timothy P. White
"The California State University welcomes Janet Napolitano and congratulates the University of California on the appointment of an accomplished leader and distinguished public servant as their next president. Our two systems, and the California Community Colleges, have long worked together to ensure the economic and social vibrancy of the state of California. I look forward to advancing our universities' common cause and mission in close cooperation with Secretary Napolitano."
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg
"Janet Napolitano played a vitally important role in protecting our country from terrorist attacks. Time and again, Secretary Napolitano recognized that homeland security funding must be based on threat, and threat alone. When funding was reduced for critical homeland security programs across the country, Secretary Napolitano made the politically difficult decision to maintain level funding for the NYPD because she recognized that New York City remains a top terror target. With her support, New York City continues to have the best local counter-terrorism organization in the world. We will miss her unwavering commitment to our safety and security, and we wish her the best of luck in her new role at the University of California."
California Community Colleges Chancellor Brice W. Harris
"The nomination of Secretary Napolitano to become the next president of the University of California is a truly inspired choice worthy of this great system of higher education. Her focus on education as governor of Arizona and the skills and leadership she has demonstrated as Homeland Security secretary make her uniquely qualified to lead the University of California. I congratulate both Secretary Napolitano and the Regents Special Committee to Consider the Selection of a President, and I pledge to work with Secretary Napolitano in her new role to ensure that all segments of public higher education work in concert to meet the educational needs of all California students."
UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla
"I'm delighted with the choice of Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano to serve as the 20th President of the University of California. Her vision, leadership and commitment to public service are perfect for addressing the challenges we face and capitalizing on the opportunities that exist. She has a proven record of support for education and understands higher education as a force to change society for the better. We look forward to the opportunity to showcase UC San Diego as an exemplar of the tremendous and impactful resource that is the University of California."
Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley
"California is fortunate to have Janet Napolitano take up the reins of the UC System. She's been a leader in tough times, a decision maker when choices are not clear cut and has a track record that includes helping overhaul our nation's broken immigration system.
She's prioritized cutting-edge research at the Department of Homeland Security, investing more than $2.2 billion in solutions only our top national labs and universities can provide. As Arizona's governor, she fiercely protected funding for higher education.
Napolitano has the political acumen to effectively advocate for the UC system from a budgetary standpoint and help shape new, innovative policies. Most exciting of all, for the first time in 145 years, a woman will carry the torch of this world-class institution and write the next chapter of the University of California."
Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento
"I congratulate Secretary Napolitano, as well as the U.C regents for their nomination of a national figure to lead our premier institution of higher education. I look forward to the opportunities of working together as we begin this new era for U.C. and our state."
Kathryn Lybarger, President of UC union AFSCME 3299
"While UC staff, students and patients were largely excluded from the secretive process that led to Secretary Janet Napolitano's appointment, we appreciate her years of public service and congratulate her on becoming the next President of the University of California. Secretary Napolitano's tenure at UC begins at a time of skyrocketing student tuition, degraded patient care quality, increased privatization of public university resources, unprecedented debt, unrivaled executive excess, and declining taxpayer trust in top University leadership. While this will be the unfortunate legacy of her predecessor, it is our hope that Secretary Napolitano will work to arrest the UC's continuing modesty problem, and restore the spirit of cooperation and respect that's needed to meet its core public research, academic and health delivery missions in the years to come. If she does, she can be assured that she will find a willing partner in AFSCME 3299."
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom
"I've been in contact with Secretary Napolitano and I'm excited to have a leader of her stature and accomplishment nominated for the presidency of our flagship higher education system.
The University of California is lucky to have a life-long public servant with executive experience at both the state and federal level.
I look forward to her confirmation and working with my fellow Santa Clara Bronco alumna on transitioning from Washington back to California."
Sen. Kevin De León, D-Los Angeles
"I congratulate Janet Napolitano on her appointment as the first woman to lead the UC system in its 145 year history. California is the birthplace of the DREAM Act where multicultural students have fought to mend our broken immigration system. For the last six years many of the actions at the Department of Homeland Security have divided families, torn parents from children and driven tens of thousands into the shadows. The UC motto is 'Let there be light.' I hope for Ms. Napolitano it's a phrase she'll take to heart by prioritizing elevation of this state's bright young people out of the shadows and into the light."
PHOTO: Janet Napolitano, Director of the Department of Homeland Security, shown with President Barack Obama on May 1, 2009, announced on July 12, 2013, that she will resign. Abaca Press/ MCT/ Olivier Douliery