UC President Janet Napolitano speaks on the issue of the college bribery scandal during the Regents meeting at UCLA in Westwood on March 13, 2019. (Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

University of California President Janet Napolitano to step down

Since she became the first woman to lead the 10-campus system in September 2013, Napolitano has enrolled historic numbers of California undergraduates.

University of California President Janet Napolitano, who has championed immigrant students and sexual abuse victims but whose management of the UC system has sparked criticism, announced Wednesday she was resigning.

Napolitano, who has battled a recurrence of breast cancer, made the announcement at the UC regents meeting at UCLA.

Since she became the first woman to lead the 10-campus system in September 2013, Napolitano has enrolled historic numbers of California undergraduates. She has aimed to increase the number of qualified community college students who transfer to UC and expanded efforts to support California high school students from all backgrounds in their pursuit of a higher education.

Napolitano took particular interest in reforming UC’s sexual harassment and sexual assault policies.

In 2017, Napolitano led UC to file a lawsuit to stop the federal government’s rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Injunctions granted in the case have allowed more than 500,000 DACA recipients _ including members of the UC community _ to renew their authorizations to live and work in the United States.

But Napolitano sparked a firestorm of criticism after a state audit found problems with her office’s financial management. She also was harshly criticized after her aides intervened in an audit’s effort to assess campus reaction to her office’s services.

Napolitano approved a plan instructing UC campuses to submit responses to confidential questionnaires for review by each college’s chancellor and her aides before returning them to the state auditor, according to a fact-finding report obtained by the Los Angeles Times. Those steps and others “constituted interference,” the investigation said.

Though Napolitano knew about the plan to review the survey responses, investigators said there was “insufficient evidence to conclude that she was aware of (the aides’) conduct in purposefully and systematically targeting unfavorable responses.”

Prior to taking the UC helm, Napolitano served as Arizona governor from 2003 to 2009 and U.S. secretary of homeland security from 2009 to 2013 under President Barack Obama.

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