University of California President Janet Napolitano announced Wednesday she will leave her post in August 2020, ending a six-year tenure leading the 10-campus system, during which she championed climate, gender and immigration policies but sparred with state officials over tuition and spending.

Napolitano, 61, called her time at the helm of Californias flagship public university system “deeply gratifying and rewarding,” and said her decision to step down was “tough” and “bittersweet.” The move had nothing to do with her health, Napolitano said, adding that with a new governor and turnover on the Board of Regents, it “seemed like a good time to have some fresh blood.”

“Suffice to say, the University of California is a wonderful and unique institution of higher education,” Napolitano said in a call with reporters. “It has been my great great honor to lead it for these last six years.”

Though she will relinquish her leadership role, Napolitano — UCs 20th president and the first woman to hold the position — said she will not be leaving the university system entirely. The former Arizona governor, who served as President Barack Obamas first U.S. Homeland Security secretary, plans to take a year off before teaching at UC Berkeleys Goldman School of Public Policy, where she is currently a tenured professor.

In announcing her departure from UC, Napolitano touted her efforts to increase enrollment and access for California students while stabilizing tuition, expanding access for community college transfers and addressing student housing affordability.

She said she took pride in establishing UC as a leader on national issues including climate change, Title IX and rights for “Dreamer” students who were raised in the U.S. as undocumented immigrants. Among these accomplishments are her commitment to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions from UCs buildings and vehicles by 2025; the establishment of UCs first systemwide Title IX office to ensure coordination, consistency and timeliness in implementing university policy against sexual harassment and violence; and the decision to sue the Trump administration over its efforts to end the DACA program.

UC was the first public university system to take legal action to save DACA, which Napolitano created as Homeland Security secretary to provide deportation protection and other benefits to young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children.

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Napolitanos embrace of such progressive causes endeared her to many student and state leaders.

“Weve appreciated the passion she brought to the job, her commitment to using the power of education to impact and improve the lot of all of us in society,” said Board of Regents Chair John A. Pérez.

Jim Wunderman, president of the Bay Area Council, a business group, called Napolitanos departure “a huge loss” and applauded her for “deepening connections with the business community” which he said “will pay major dividends for the state for decades to come.”

But Napolitano also faced sharp criticism of her leadership — most notably in 2017, after she interfered with a state audit that found her office had kept $175 million in undisclosed reserves, used misleading budgeting practices, gave employees overly generous salaries and failed to justify spending.

UCs Board of Regents chastised Napolitano for “poor judgment” in the audit incident but continued to support her.

“That type of accounting had gone on for years,” Pérez said Wednesday. “It was not something the president instigated during her term.”

And though undergraduate resident tuition rose just once during her tenure, by 2.5 percent, both Gov. Gavin Newsom and his predecessor, former Gov. Jerry Brown, frequently battled Napolitano over proposed tuition hikes and urged her to do more to keep UC spending in check.

In 2014, for example, Napolitano proposed five straight years of 5-percent Read More – Source