UC President Janet Napolitano Expresses Strong Support For Los Alamos National Laboratory

UC President Janet Napolitano speaks at a gathering of LANL employees Monday at the NSSB. Courtesy/LANL
Los Alamos Daily Post

During a private half hour talk with employees gathered in an auditorium at the National Security Sciences Building Monday, University of California President Janet Napolitano spoke of her commitment to Los Alamos National Laboratory.

“We are proud of our relationship with Los Alamos and we remain unwavering in our support,” Napolitano said. “This Lab has a tremendous charge and that is the safety, security and effectiveness of our nuclear stockpile … before becoming president of UC, I spent almost five years as secretary of Homeland Security so I know firsthand how important your work is.”

Following her talk, Napolitano remained in the auditorium for a few minutes to answer questions from several LANL employees seated in the audience including a man who asked, “If UC values the technical expertise of the laboratory than why aren’t we UC employees?” The change over from UC to LANS managing LANL happened several years before she took the helm at UC but Napolitano did say, “One thing I can do is advocate at the national level for funding for basic scientific research.”

LANL is fostering a pipeline of post doc students that greatly enhance the scientific world, she said. For the first time in the history of Berkeley, more women than men were enrolled in computer science last year, she said, but women remain under represented in the STEM programs as a whole.

Napolitano announced that she has allocated $400,000 this fall for a new program at UC for post docs and to increase the number of women in science and engineering.

“I am committed to strengthening the relationship between the Laboratory and the UC system,” she said. “I recognize and strongly support the role the Lab plays in our nation’s security.”

Prior to her talk Monday in the auditorium, Napolitano received briefings on some Lab programs and had lunch with LANL Director Charlie McMillan.

“The university is central to the excellence in our science mission and as I spoke with President Napolitano, I sensed her commitment to that excellence,” McMillan said as he introduced her.

After the employee talk, Napolitano met with women leaders at the Lab and at 4 p.m., met with UC students working at the Laboratory.

Napolitano is a former governor of Arizona who grew up in Albuquerque and graduated from Sandia High School. She mentioned visiting LANL as a Girl Scout.

Napolitano was named the 20th president of the University of California July 18, 2013, and took office Sept. 30, 2013. She leads a university system with 10 campuses, five medical centers, three affiliated national laboratories and a statewide agriculture and natural resources program.

She served as Secretary of Homeland Security from 2009-13, as Governor of Arizona from 2003-09, as Attorney General of Arizona from 1998-2003 and as U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona from 1993-97. Before that, she practiced at the law firm of Lewis & Roca in Phoenix, where she became a partner in 1989. She began her career in 1983 as a clerk for Judge Mary M. Schroeder of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. As Governor of Arizona, Napolitano focused on education, from pre-kindergarten through public higher education. She was the first woman to chair the National Governors Association, and was named one of the nation’s top five governors by Time magazine.

Napolitano earned a B.S. degree (summa cum laude in Political Science) in 1979 from Santa Clara University, where she was Phi Beta Kappa, a Truman Scholar and the university’s first female valedictorian. She received her law degree in 1983 from the University of Virginia School of Law. Napolitano holds honorary degrees from several universities and colleges, including Emory University, Pomona College and Northeastern University. In 2010, she was awarded the prestigious Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal (Law), the University of Virginia’s highest external honor.