Former UC President Janet Napolitano Receives ACE Lifetime Achievement Award
May 17, 2021

​​​Janet Napolitano, a nationally recognized higher education leader and distinguished public servant, today was presented with ACE's Lifetime Achievement Award.

Napolitano served as the 20th president of the University of California (UC) from 2013-20, and was the first woman to serve in that role. She is currently a professor of public policy and director of the Center for Security in Politics at The Goldman School at UC Berkeley.

Janet Napolitano headshot

Janet Napolitano

As UC’s president, Napolitano led a university system of 10 campuses, five medical centers, three affiliated national laboratories, and a statewide agriculture and natural resources program. Previously, she served as the U.S. secretary of homeland security from 2009 to 2013, as governor of Arizona from 2003 to 2009, as attorney general of Arizona from 1998 to 2003, and as U.S. attorney for the District of Arizona from 1993 to 1997.

ACE will be celebrating Napolitano and other recipients of 2021 ACE awards online next week with video interviews and more.

“It is an honor to bestow ACE’s Lifetime Achievement Award on a leader who has accomplished so much for all of the UC campuses, UC students, and the entire higher education community,” said ACE President Ted Mitchell. “Under her watch, UC expanded access and affordability for underserved populations, fought to protect Dreamers, led on global climate action, and much more.”

“I’m humbled and honored to receive this recognition from ACE, a champion of higher education access and equity,” said Napolitano. “I’ll always be inspired by the hardworking and creative students, faculty, and staff at UC — and at colleges and universities across the nation — who are making the world a better place through their research, advocacy, and public service.”

During her tenure at the helm of UC, Napolitano was a steadfast advocate for California students, working to enroll historic numbers of California undergraduates. Napolitano launched an initiative to accelerate the translation of UC research into new businesses and inventions that benefit the public good, and she implemented reforms to UC’s approach to preventing and responding to sexual harassment and assault.

In 2017, UC was the first university in the country to file a lawsuit to stop the federal government’s rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Napolitano worked to put UC on a path to 100 percent reliance on clean electricity across all campuses and medical centers by 2025, the same year the university aims to achieve systemwide carbon neutrality.

Previous ACE Lifetime Achievement Award recipients have included: Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (2018); Brice W. Harris, then chancellor of the California Community Colleges (2016); and Mary Sue Coleman, then president of the University of Michigan (2014).

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