Skip to content Skip to navigation

Gov. Gavin Newsom Visits UC Merced Political Science Class

November 16, 2022
California Governor Gavin Newsom talks with students in a UC Merced political science class Monday. Nov. 7, 2022
Gov. Gavin Newsom visited UC Merced to talk with a political science class Monday, Nov. 7, 2022

    A day before the midterm election, Gov. Gavin Newsom made a surprise visit
    to a political science class at UC Merced.

    Newsom was invited by Assemblymember Adam Gray, who co-teaches the class
    and provides insight about how government, specifically the California
    State Legislature, operates. As part of the course, students take on
    various roles, including state senators, lobbyists and the media, as well
    as a candidate running for governor.

    After a brief history of his own political journey, Newsom spoke to the
    class about the importance of relationships and working across the aisle,
    something he said has been lost with the increased political polarization
    in the United States.

    “For all the power politics, for all the decision making and for all of
    these issues, it still matters,” he said. “There are those calls that could
    quite literally go either way. And when someone’s developed trust, which is
    the coin of the realm … it is the difference maker.”

    Among the dignitaries who joined students in the audience were UC Merced
    Chancellor Juan Sánchez Muñoz, Merced Mayor Matthew Serratto and Merced
    County Supervisor Josh Pedrozo. The governor spent the majority of his time
    in the classroom listening to students and what they have come to learn
    about how government operates.

    "You need to make a point in order to make a difference," one student told
    him.

    Speaking to the media, Newsom pointed to the timing of his visit, which
    came the day before he was elected to a second term. He said he enjoyed
    talking to the students and learning their perspectives.

    “You see these remarkably talented young folks that have a quality of
    imagination, and they haven’t gotten the message that our best days are
    behind us. It’s the opposite. They’re still bright-eyed and optimistic. It
    warms the heart.”

    Prior to the lecture, Muñoz and representatives from the university’s
    Center for Analytic Political Engagement (CAPE) had an informal meeting
    with Newsom, during which he was briefed on the research and scholarship
    underway at the new center. Billed as a focal point for scholars, students
    and community leaders in the San Joaquin Valley, CAPE was made possible in
    large part thanks to Gray’s efforts to include it in the 2021 Budget Act.
    Newsom signed the act into law last year.

    Austyn Smith Jones, managing director for CAPE, said though the news of
    Newsom’s visit came as a surprise, the organization made all the
    arrangements necessary to make it happen.

    “The whole course is about putting yourself in the position of a lawmaker
    or one of the other roles,” she said. “Hearing a first-hand account about
    how to get things done was really exciting for the students.”

    Those who attended the surprise guest lecture were still talking about the
    experience the following day at a CAPE election returns party, Jones said.
    Muñoz was especially grateful for the time the governor spent at UC Merced
    and for providing the political science students with a memorable
    experience.

    “We appreciate Governor Newsom taking the time to share with our students
    some of the very real experiences of how state government functions,” the
    chancellor said. “His visit to UC Merced the day before his re-election
    speaks volumes about how important the university and the broader Central
    Valley area is to California.”