U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has been nominated to become president of the University of California system, and a leading conservative scholar said the choice is a poor, politically biased pick.
“She has neither qualifications nor experience for running an academic institution,” John Ellis, president of the conservative California Association of Scholars, said in an email to The College Fix. “If you are going to appoint a political figure to a post that requires they be non-political, it matters that both sides of the political spectrum don’t see her as a strongly partisan figure. But nobody could say that in her case.”
Ellis, a UC Santa Cruz professor emeritus, added the association is engaged in an ongoing struggle for the system to acknowledge and address its well-documented left-leaning bias, and Napolitano’s selection will only impede those efforts.
“As many polls show, the California public is very concerned about the politicization of UC classrooms,” he said in his statement. “Instead of being mindful of that problem, the regents have just made it very much worse: they have invited a nationally prominent political figure to head the university.”
The association frequently cites various faculty surveys which find that for every eight professors in California who identified themselves as either left-leaning, Democrat or socialist, one professor identified themselves as conservative or Republican.
In many cases, however, studies found the margins at UC campuses and elsewhere are often closer to 30:2. Another survey found professors would be more inclined to hire a communist than a Republican.
Napolitano, who’s had a polarizing term as U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary serving under Democrat President Barack Obama, said she recognized she was a non-traditional candidate to lead the 10-campus, 234,000-student system, according to system officials.
Supporters of the selection have been quick to tout Napolitano’s political experience, hypothesizing she will be able to use her savvy as a way to secure more state funding and support for the UC system, which has faced budget cuts in the wake of the economic recession.
But Napolitano, dubbed “Big Sis” by conservative media outlets, had has plenty of gaffes during her tenure as homeland security secretary.
Political reporter Andrew Stiles of National Review Online chronicled those many missteps in a recent article:
The time she said the 9/11 hijackers came from Canada. The time DHS published a report on the growing threat of “rightwing extremists.” The time she (allegedly) dabbled in cronyism. The time she said the border is secure. The time she ordered bagpipes during sequestration. The time she ruined airports for everyone. The time she hid in an elevator to avoid taking a stance on gay marriage.
Ellis said her selection does not bode well for the UC system, saying Napolitano will likely sympathize with “the classroom excesses of UC’s radical left faculty.”
Jennifer Kabbany is associate editor of The College Fix.
IMAGE: The National Guard/Flickr