Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano to Step Down

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
July 12 2013 10:19 AM

Janet Napolitano Leaving Homeland Security Post for World of Academia

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Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano addresses the American Hotel and Lodging Association's 2013 Legislative Action Summit on Capitol Hill April 24, 2013 in Washington, D.C.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Here's some news on a slow(ish) summer Friday that not many people saw coming, via the Los Angeles Times:

Janet Napolitano, the U.S. secretary of Homeland Security and former governor of Arizona, is being named as the next president of the University of California system, in an unusual choice that brings a national-level politician to a position usually held by an academic. Her appointment also means the 10-campus system will be headed by a woman for the first time in its 145-year history.
Napolitano’s nomination by a committee of UC regents came after a secretive process that insiders said focused on her early as a high-profile, although untraditional, candidate who has led large public agencies and shown a strong interest in improving education.
UC officials believe that her Cabinet experiences –- which include helping to lead responses to hurricanes and tornadoes and overseeing some anti-terrorism measures -- will help UC administer its federal energy and nuclear weapons labs and aid its federally funded research in medicine and other areas.
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The Times is running its scoop under the headline of "Janet Napolitano, Homeland Security chief, to head UC," but for those outside of the Golden State, the bigger news is probably less where she's heading and more where she's leaving: Homeland Security, an agency with an annual $60-billion budget and 240,000 employees, that she has led since 2009. As the National Journal is quick to point out, her departure will likely bring an end to wide-speculation that she was in line to replace Eric Holder as attorney general.

This post has been updated.

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

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