SAN FRANCISCO - University of California President Janet Napolitano only occasionally looked up to watch the students hurling insults at her - "mass deporter," "top cop," "the person responsible for tearing apart families" - or demanding her resignation Wednesday.
After all, it has been like this ever since it was announced in July that Napolitano, President Barack Obama's then-homeland security secretary, would come to California to take over UC.
The Department of Homeland Security deported a record number of undocumented immigrants during Napolitano's tenure, and protesters at a meeting of the UC's governing board Wednesday were not quieted by Napolitano's previous assurances that the UC welcomes undocumented immigrants and that she will push for a change in federal law to prevent the deportation of students brought here illegally as children.
At a news conference held during a break in the meeting Wednesday, a reporter pointed out that "the students really didn't welcome you with open arms."
"Well, some of the students, yeah," Napolitano said.
The Democrat and former Arizona governor suggested the protesters didn't know her.
"I have to say, with all respect, that I think some of the protests were based ... not on knowing me, I mean, just, you know, kind of a paper representation, as it were, that wasn't even complete," Napolitano said. "I think as I continue to work with these students and talk with them, and also with faculty and staff - everybody involved in the educational enterprise of the UC, that's how I'll be judged, not on, you know, some kind of a false impression."
Bruce Varner, the UC's governing board chairman, wasn't asked, but he was standing beside Napolitano and felt compelled to defend her.
"We really are totally confident in her ability to lead the university," he said.
PHOTO: University of California police look out at a group of protesters against new UC President Janet Napolitano outside a UC Board of Regents meeting Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013, in San Francisco. Associated Press/Eric Risberg