In her first significant speech as new UC President, Janet Napolitano on Wednesday announced $15 million in new funding to help undocumented, postdoctoral, and graduate students.
She promised she’d announce “big” policy proposals at the UC Regents meeting next month.
“UC welcomes all students who qualify academically, whether they are documented or undocumented,” she said as she announced she'd spend $5 million this year on financial aid, trained advisers, and student service centers for undocumented students. It was clearly an olive branch meant for what have until now been some of her most vocal critics.
“These Dreamers, as they are often called, are students who would have benefited from a federal DREAM Act,” she said. “They are students who deserve the opportunity to succeed and to thrive at UC.”
“Wow, that’s good to hear,” said Seth Ronquillo, a UCLA student who is undocumented. He was among hundreds who had opposed Napolitano’s hiring in July because she had enforced federal deportations in her former job as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Ronquillo and another undocumented student attended an invite-only lunch this month with Napolitano during her UCLA stop on her multi-campus visiting tour.
“It shows that she hears us in that regard because we did mention that to her,” he said.
The new UC president also promised a $5 million increase for post doctoral fellowships to improve teaching and lab research.
“Graduate students and post-docs are the essential links between teaching for California and researching for the world,” she said.
She promised to spend another $5 million to recruit top-notch graduate students worldwide.
“They are our future faculty members. They are our future innovators. They are our future Nobel laureates," she said. "They merit our additional support right now."