Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is resigning her post to lead the University of California system.

Janet Napolitano Resigning as Homeland Security Secretary and Headed to...

AP

Napolitano told senior staff Friday that she was leaving, the Associated Press reported. She has led the Department of Homeland Security since the beginning of the Obama administration.

“The opportunity to work with the dedicated men and women of the Department of Homeland Security, who serve on the front lines of our nation’s efforts to protect our communities and families from harm, has been the highlight of my professional career,” Napolitano said in a statement. “After four plus years of focusing on these challenges, I will be nominated as the next president of the University of California to play a role in educating our nation’s next generation of leaders.”

Obama praised Napolitano for her “outstanding work on behalf of the American people over the last four years,” including citing her work to make the immigration system “fairer and more consistent with our values” and in “protecting our homeland against terrorist attacks.”

“Janet’s portfolio has included some of the toughest challenges facing our country,” Obama said in a statement. “She’s worked around the clock to respond to natural disasters, from the Joplin tornado to Hurricane Sandy, helping Americans recover and rebuild. Since day one, Janet has led my administration’s effort to secure our borders, deploying a historic number of resources, while also taking steps to make our immigration system fairer and more consistent with our values. And the American people are safer and more secure thanks to Janet’s leadership in protecting our homeland against terrorist attacks.”

Napolitano, the former governor of Arizona, will be the first female president of the 10-campus University of California system, which includes the University of California at Berkeley and UCLA.

“While some may consider her to be an unconventional choice, Secretary Napolitano is without a doubt the right person at the right time to lead this incredible university,” Sherry Lansing, a University of California system regent, said in a statement being released Friday, according to The Los Angeles Times. “She will bring fresh eyes and a new sensibility — not only to UC, but to all of California. She will stand as a vigorous advocate for faculty, students and staff at a time when great changes in our state, and across the globe, are presenting as many opportunities as challenges.”

This post has been updated.

Other Must-Read Stories