Janet Napolitano, who has served as homeland
security secretary since US President Barack Obama took office in
2009, resigned Friday to be nominated as head of California's
prestigious university system.
Napolitano will become the first woman to head the 10-campus system in the public university's 145-year history. The nomination followed an extensive search by a committee of the board of regents that governs the system, the Los Angeles Times reported.
In her resignation announcement, Napolitano listed the challenges and accomplishments of more than four years of service in the Cabinet, citing work to minimize threats to the US public, improvement of traveler safety, bolstering the response to disasters and improvements in cybersecurity.
"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," Napolitano said.
Obama thanked her for her service and said her portfolio had "included some of the toughest challenges facing our country."
He noted particularly her work after the tornado disaster in Joplin, Missouri, in 2011 that killed 158 people, and Hurricane Sandy in 2012 that killed more than 30.
"The American people are safer and more secure thanks to Janet's leadership in protecting our homeland against terrorist attacks," Obama said.
Cabinet resignations in a president's second term are not unusual. Among the high profile resignations this year were Hillary Clinton as secretary of state and Timothy Geithner as treasury secretary.
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