Janet Napolitano is stepping down as the head of Homeland Security and stepping in as President of the University of California school system. Napolitano, who is also the former Governor of Arizona, called her time as Secretary of Homeland Security “the highlight of her career,” but is a highlight she is ready to move on from to a challenging but ultimately cushier position heading the UC system.
Napolitano managed to make it through five years in President Obama’s cabinet relatively unscathed by the controversies and scorn that have dogged other appointees like Attorney General Eric Holder and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. The biggest media storm that enveloped her involved the introduction of full-body scanners, technology that raised both health and privacy concerns. The fate of the scanners is still in flux, but the controversy around them has largely died down, as they have become just another fact of American life.
As UC President, Napolitano moves on to other challenges, namely how to handle budget shortfalls and the ever-lingering issue of tuition increases. Recently, the UC system has done more to attract rich foreign students who do not expect any financial aid. Higher education in California got an important boost from ballot measures in 2012 which raised taxes on the rich to fund schools such as UC Berkeley and UCLA, which require a tremendous stream of cash to retain their status as some of the best institutes of research and learning in the country.
Napolitano becomes the latest government official to learn that government is great, but the best part of working in government is the next job you get.