SAN FRANCISCO - The University of California's Governing Board voted Thursday to appoint Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano as the first female president of the 10-campus system despite objections to her record on immigration.
Napolitano said her leadership experience as a Cabinet secretary and governor of Arizona had prepared her for leading the university system with 240,000 students.
"Let me acknowledge that I am not a traditional candidate for this position," the 55-year-old Napolitano told the regents. "I have not spent a career in academia. But that said, I have spent 20 years in public service advocating for it."
Student regent Cinthia Flores was the only board member to cast a vote against Napolitano, echoing heated remarks from protesters inside and outside the meeting concerned about deportations and other elements of Napolitano's policies as head of homeland security.
"I grew up in an immigrant household, in an immigrant community," Flores told the regents. "I can tell you the fear is real."
Napolitano defended her track record on immigration, saying she has been an advocate for the federal Dream Act and immigration reform.
She is expected to start the new job in late September and will make a base salary of $570,000 - slightly less than her predecessor. She will also get a one-time relocation fee of $142,500, an annual auto allowance of $8,916, and $28,500 annually in special senior management benefits plus a standard retirement plan that would be vested after five years.
Her base salary as homeland security secretary is $199,700.
Supporters lauded Napolitano as a leader who has managed large, complex public agencies, and said her political aptitude would help the financially embattled university system secure money from the state and donors.
"I think we have in front of us a remarkable person of character," said Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who cast his vote for her.
Before the vote, dozens of protesters gathered outside the board meeting, waving signs and shouting speeches against Napolitano.
Six protesters were arrested inside the building after one jumped over a rope barrier and headed toward the regents, prompting more shouts and chants of "Education not deportation." UC officials said the six people were cited and released.