UC President Janet Napolitano briefs members on top issues

Janet Napolitano, President of the University of California and former Secretary of Homeland Security, met this week with Bay Area Council members to share her priorities for keeping California’s crown jewel the top public university system in the world. Many areas she cited – including technology transfer, public private partnerships, supporting basic research and making better connections between PhD grads and jobs – are in sync with projects on which the Council is engaged. Housing and transportation are others, and Napolitano said the housing affordability crisis in the Bay Area is having a major impact on UCSF’s ability to attract both students and faculty. She agreed to assign a staff member to work with the Council on regional housing solutions.

Napolitano listed the many ways in which UC leads, but noted that California can’t take that success for granted. She cited dramatically declining state support, down to just 6.5 percent of UC’s funding, as a major challenge that has resulted in students’ share of their education costs tripling in the past 20 years. UC is responding under her leadership by becoming more efficient and cost- conscious – Napolitano has frozen her office’s budget for 2014-15 and is freezing tuition over the same period as her administration undertakes a review of new tuition approaches. She urged business leaders to advocate with their peers and decision makers for increased state funding. To engage in the Council’s higher education policy work, please contact Vice President Linda Galliher.

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