ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -

Outgoing Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says her selection as the incoming president of the University of California system is unusual for someone who didn't work previously in higher education.

But Napolitano told the Albuquerque Journal in a phone interview Saturday while traveling in New Mexico that the decision to hire her as the university system's leader wasn't without precedent.

She told the newspaper that she was a nontraditional pick, but others working at high levels in government have gone on to run universities.

She cited former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, former Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala and former Oklahoma Gov. David Boren.

Daniels is president of Purdue University.

Shalala serves as the University of Miami's president.

Boren is president of the University of Oklahoma.