Congressman John Garamendi

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Congressman Garamendi learns about the Engineering Student Design Center experience

A former lineman for the Cal Bears and NFL prospect before deciding to pursue a career in public service, U.S.  Congressman John Garamendi was elected to the California legislature in 1974, where he served for 16 years, attaining the position of Senate Majority Leader.  His laws established California’s emergency medical system, expanded community health clinics, created a work-oriented welfare program, protected Lake Tahoe and Mono Lakes, and developed an overall state agenda for competitiveness and scientific advancement.  He authored the Senior Center Bond Act and a proposition that brought $18 billion to public transit and highways.  Fast forward 40 years and the congressman is still as passionate about his public service as he ever was – a tireless proponent of job creation, quality and affordable health care, education, environmental protection, and scientific research.   

Garamendi, now also officially a UC Davis Aggie as a three-time Aggie parent and soon to be Aggie grandparent of their family’s newest UC Davis freshman this fall, cheers UC Davis for the world-class university it is, “an incredibly special place, I’ve seen first-hand how UC Davis can prepare its students for success.” 

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Congressman Garamendi and Chancellor May at the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center, TERC

Representing the 3rd Congressional District, he is responsible for the geographic area that includes UC Davis.  The congressman leans on UC Davis’ open door policy to its researchers, administration and resources to better do his work.  “I rely on information to do my job effectively.  UC Davis’ willingness to make their talented researchers and staff members available to my office has been an invaluable asset that’s helped me craft public policy.  Every member of the UC Davis community I’ve worked with has always been guided by an eagerness to serve.”

Eager to share the wealth of expertise and talent available at UC Davis, Garamendi recently hosted 50 of the area’s manufacturing and community leaders as part of his Manufacturing Advisory Committee (MAC) to learn about strengthening the manufacturing sector through Research and Discovery.  “UC Davis is home to cutting edge research that has bolstered the American manufacturing industry for decades.  I want manufacturers from across my large district to have the opportunity to share ideas and information with each other while tapping into the innovative network of faculty and researchers at UC Davis.”  Strongly touting that robust investments in top-tier education programs, like the engineering program at UC Davis, pay dividends to the local community, he believes “Students can use their education to give back to the Sacramento region by using their skills and knowledge to develop new technologies that streamline local transportation corridors, improve health IT and telemedicine delivery, and help grow the local economy.”

Garamendi and UC Davis Engineering students
Learning about the Student Design Center from engineering students

During his MAC campus visit, the congressman met with five engineering students.  Excited to tour the university’s primary manufacturing shop for numerous student teams and research groups, the Engineering Student Design Center, Garamendi applauded UC Davis’ emphasis on cultivating “invaluable” hands-on experience for its students, stating that “it allows students to apply the information they’ve learned in the classroom to real issues and scenarios.  This experience demonstrates to employers that students’ classroom skills can be translated into real-world situations.  Investing in this means investing in students’ futures.”

Garamendi was quick to also point out, however, that UC Davis’ influence extends far beyond that of just training a capable workforce as he described the critical role of higher education, research and innovation to the state of California and to manufacturing in the American economy.  “UC Davis has made an impact on nearly every facet of our nation’s manufacturing industry and economy,” says the congressman.  “For example, my district is one of the most productive agricultural regions in the country—with an annual farmgate value of over $4.4 billion.  For years, researchers at UC Davis have developed new, innovative technologies that have helped the local farming community maximize its yields and tackle some its most formidable challenges.  The innovation that takes place right here at UC Davis has helped family farmers across my district employ more efficient equipment and manufacturing technology that has saved them time and money.”

Recognizing Equal Access to education a critically important component of a successful and prosperous society, Garamendi, introduced a bill in Congress called the Student Loan Refinancing and Recalculation Act that would help lift the burden of student loan debt off the shoulders of college graduates by allowing them to refinance their student loans at a lower rate.  “Right now, the federal government can profit off student loan debt.  I think that’s shameful, and this legislation would right that wrong.  You can refinance your home and car, why shouldn’t you be allowed to refinance your student loans?” 

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The congressman serves as "timer" for the Gyroscope Engineering Challenge

As a former California Lieutenant Governor, Insurance Commissioner, and Deputy Secretary of the U.S.  Interior Department to President Clinton, Congressman Garamendi possesses the unique wealth of knowledge and experience necessary to tackle today’s complex challenges and we are lucky to have him represent UC Davis.  In his earlier years as state senator, Garamendi's legislation, also dubbed the Garamendi mechanism, made possible UC Davis' Genome and Biomedical Sciences research that it is internationally known for today.  Enabling the university to pay off a construction loan with overhead payments in federal research funds that would otherwise be funneled to the state, the Garamendi mechanism covered $62.7 million of the construction costs necessary to complete the Genome and Biomedical Sciences Facility.  In Congress, he continues to be a relentless advocate for higher education and to expand opportunities for every American, working towards access to all, “I’m thankful to universities like UC Davis that have launched initiatives and established programs to create opportunities for students of all backgrounds, regardless of socioeconomic status.   I proudly support these efforts in Washington.”