UC Pres. Napolitano talks about tuition freeze promise

Janet Napolitano has promised to freeze undergrad tuition next year, but is realistic about the true costs of running the UC system.
November 14, 2013 6:40:29 PM PST
University of California President Janet Napolitano promised no tuition increases next year for students. But that comes with a big if. To avoid an increase, the Board of Regents says Sacramento needs to come up with more money.

She told me again, that she will cut costs at home first -- meaning the university system-- and come up with other ways to increase revenue. And she's got the background as a former governor of Arizona and as someone who attended the London School of Economics for one term.

But again, keep in mind that this is Janet Napolitano who knows who to approach in the legislature for money.

Napolitano officially took office as president of the UC system on Sept. 30. She's been on the job for only 43 days.

Already she's promised to freeze undergraduate tuition next year, but is realistic about the true costs of running the University of California. This despite money coming from Proposition 30, a series of tax increases voters approved last Nov.

"Governor Brown this morning said, 'please don't ask me for more money,'" Napolitano said. "We will fight for that tuition freeze. We're going to look for ways that we can reduce our own costs. We are going to look to where we can streamline transferring community college student into the UC system, so we have a lot on our plate."

In a way this is a test of how well Napolitano is connected and how politically savvy the former governor of Arizona can be.

She told me her goal is to make the UC system affordable while maintaining its reputation as one of the world's greatest research institutions.

"It's not a time out," she said. "It's really an opportunity for us to really explore our revenue and cost structure and see what need to be done for long term sustainability."

And then there are the student protests, which started well before she took office because of her previous job as Secretary of Homeland Security, which saw record breaking number of deportations.

"I'm not here to be the DHS Secretary," she said. "I'm here to be the President of the UC, as someone who has a long experience and very rich experience running very high level complex institutions."

A former governor once referred to Napolitano as a workaholic.

Lyanne: "What do you do for fun?"
Napolitano: "Oh I read for fun, fiction, non-fiction. I go to listen to music, movies, play tennis."
Lyanne: "What are you reading now?
Napolitano: "Right now I am reading Donna Tartt's new book The Goldfinch."

Napolitano wouldn't say how many hours a day she puts in, but let's just say hers is not a 9 to 5 job and she lives in a condo in Oakland, not far from her office.

The tuition at the University of California is a little more than $12,000 without room and board. Half of the students who attend qualify for a waiver because their families earn less than $80,000 a year.


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