My August newsletter

August 28, 2017

Dear friends and colleagues,

Our campuses are once again buzzing with renewed energy as students move in and our faculty and staff prepare for the start of a new academic year. More California students are enrolled at UC than at any point in our history, and I’m looking forward to what these bright minds will achieve. At this time of new beginnings, I’d like to share some news on national, state and local fronts.

It’s time to protect the “Dreamers”

Five years ago, when I was secretary of Homeland Security, we began accepting the first Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) applications from “Dreamers” who had been brought to this country without documentation when they were children. I will never forget that day: Tens of thousands of some of the best and brightest young people in our country applied to the program and celebrated their ability to live, work and learn in the only nation most of them had ever known.

Since that time, nearly 800,000 Dreamers have gone through the rigorous application process and received DACA’s protections against deportation.

Protecting Dreamers is smart, effective policy. It ensures our limited law enforcement resources are spent on those who pose a risk to our communities, not on those who contribute to our state and national economies every day. It boosts our economy, with Dreamers paying taxes, purchasing homes and cars, and starting businesses that provide jobs.

And at UC, I see the exceptional contributions that young Dreamers make to our country. Most are the first in their families to attend college, and they work hard to further their education. Some are pursuing PhDs and have ambitious, humanitarian goals, such as working to cure cancer. They represent the very best of our country. They embody the spirit of the American dream.

Today, however, our nation’s Dreamers face an uncertain future. President Trump can and should continue this program, and Congress also has the power and responsibility to make those protections permanent. Republican Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) and Democrat Sen. Richard J. Durbin (Ill.) have reintroduced the Dream Act, which would provide Dreamers the opportunity to continue to live, work and contribute to our country and, after a long application process and additional background checks, to travel a pathway to citizenship.

These young Dreamers have proven that, when given the opportunity to contribute, they exceed expectations. It is time to unlock the full potential of these exceptional young people by making these protections permanent.

You can read more in my full op-ed in The Washington Post.

UC to host public law conference on civil rights

I’m proud to share with you that UC will be hosting its inaugural systemwide public service law conference: “Civil Rights in the 21st Century” Sept. 23-24 at UCLA's Luskin Conference Center.

With broad policy changes being introduced by a new administration in Washington, D.C. affecting areas such as immigration, health care and education, and individual civil liberties under attack from multiple angles, the legal community is taking on an increasingly important role in California and across the nation.

The conference will feature more than 500 law students, faculty members, lawyers, and nonprofit professionals working on important issues like immigration, homelessness, access to counsel, water rights, and veterans’ issues.

Stemming from the UC Public Service Fellowship program, which provides over $4.5 million annually to students interested in public interest law at UC, the conference will be a capstone experience for the first group of summer and post-grad UC Presidential Fellows.

I invite anyone who’s interested in these issues and learning about all the good work taking place throughout UC and beyond to join us.

If you think you might like to attend the conference, you can learn more and registerhere. I hope to see you there.

Spreading the opportunity message

I had the pleasure of speaking with members of the California Black Chamber of Commerce and California NAACP President Alice Huffman this month, and sharing with them the university’s efforts to ensure our student population reflects California’s rich diversity.

This past academic year, more than 8,000 African-American undergraduates were enrolled at UC campuses. That’s the most since California enacted Prop. 209 nearly two decades ago, banning public entities from considering race, gender or ethnicity in admissions, employment and contracting.

Prop. 209 has made it more challenging to promote racial and ethnic diversity at UC, but we have learned to work within these limits. UC’s outreach efforts and academic preparation programs, which reach more than 100,000 K-12 California students a year, welcomes students from all walks of life and sends the clear message that UC is a viable — and affordable — option.

You can read more about what UC is doing in its commitment to diversity here.

UC hospitals ranked among the best in the nation, state

I’m very happy to share that two of the nation’s top 10 hospitals are University of California medical centers. According to U.S. News & World Report’s recently released 2017-18 rankings, UC San Francisco Medical Center is fifth in the country and UCLA Medical Center is seventh. In addition, both hospitals are included in U.S. News’ Honor Roll of the top 20 for several specialties.

All five UC hospitals are among the best in the state, with UCSF ranked No. 1, followed by UCLA (2), UC Davis (5), UC San Diego (7) and UC Irvine (11).

These rankings, which were compiled after an assessment of 4,500 medical centers around the country, reflect the dedication and compassion of UC’s medical staff and the excellent care Californians can count on at all of our medical facilities.

If you’d like to learn more about the rankings, see our press release.

Thanks for reading. Please email me at if you’d like to share an idea or comment. As always, feel free to pass this letter on to friends and colleagues and invite them to sign up for future newsletters if they’d like.

Yours very truly,

Janet Napolitano