The head of one of the most prestigious state university systems in America should have one chief qualification: She should be ideologically inclined toward openness in education for the benefit of the students. Political bias permeates the higher education system throughout the United States, indoctrinating students into the canon of leftism. A huge number of students emerge with degrees in useless political correctness, an inability to think about the world without an emotional lens, and few job skills. The right person at the head of the University of California could bring some much-needed reform.
So, naturally, the University of California system is handing over the reins to one of the least effective politicians of the last half-century, former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
Napolitano got her career started as Attorney General of the State of Arizona, where she was able to achieve a ban on the scourge of Christmas decorations. She then became governor of Arizona (2003-2009). In that post, she did little to protect citizens from the drug cartels crossing the southern border, repeatedly stopping bills that would have helped secure the border. She claims that she helped the state keep tuition low for students, build new facilities and increase funding for professors -- but in 2006, the state held a $1.5 billion budget surplus, and by the time she left in 2008, the state had the nation's worst budget deficit at $1.7 billion.
She was even worse as head of the DHS, where her department helped oversee Operation Fast and Furious and presided over the near bombing of a passenger plane in 2009. ("The system worked!" she trumpeted after passengers had to subdue a would-be terrorist). She became famous for her espousal of heavy petting at airports. DHS became a haven for those who would sexually harass male employees. Meanwhile, as a cover for her softness on illegal immigration more broadly, she created an artificial uptick in arrests of illegal immigrants; The New York Times rapped her for assembling "the nation's police officers and sheriff's deputies into an undertrained, poorly supervised army of subcontractors for a nationwide deportation dragnet."
Worst of all, Napolitano has demonstrated a consistent ideological dogmatism that does not allow for dissent. In one of her first moves at DHS, she greenlit a report suggesting that "radicalized rightwing extremists" were the greatest threats to national security. The DHS targeted groups that were "antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority."
The report was released one week before scheduled Tax Day tea party protests. The report stated, "Rightwing extremist chatter on the Internet continues to focus on the economy, the perceived loss of U.S. jobs in the manufacturing and construction sectors, and home foreclosures." Meanwhile, the DHS's Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties handed out Dos and Don't for local law enforcement, including directions not to use Muslim "trainers who are self-professed reformers" due to the fact that they could "further an interest group agenda instead of generally accepted, unbiased information."
This does not signal an openness to various political viewpoints. It suggests business as usual for a university system already known for its prohibitive leftism. Yet the UC selected Napolitano, despite her lack of experience, because of her "passion for education." Sherry Lansing, committee chair and Hollywood big shot, said Napolitano would bring "fresh eyes and a new sensibility -- not only to UC, but to all of California." For those fresh eyes, the UC will pay Napolitano $750,000 per year.
Those eyes won't be fresh. They'll be jaded. And the students of the UC will suffer when they are spoon fed more Napolitano-style liberalism instead of a variety of ideological viewpoints that should be the hallmark of any great learning experience.