We offer our cheers and jeers for local newsmakers as we look back over the previous week:
CHEERS to the Mondavi Center for drawing a large, enthusiastic audience — including more than 500 university students — to last week’s performance by the San Francisco Symphony. Mondavi packed in the youths by offering $10 seats for UCD students, similar to the deal that big orchestras like the Chicago Symphony offer students at certain performances.
The students responded in large numbers, and in the process the Mondavi Center carried out the educational portion of its mission. What happens when you add 500 college students to the “usual” orchestra audience? Among other things, you get a lot of backpacks deposited at the coat-check station in the lobby — about 125, which we’re told is a record.
JEERS to the lack of fans at UC Davis women’s basketball games. On Feb. 13, the Aggies played in front of 331 people, the smallest home crowd since 324 on Nov. 16, 2011. Across town on Feb. 7, the Davis High boys basketball team played in front of 1,272 vocal supporters on its Break the Record Night.
Back in UCD’s Division II heyday in the late 1990s, Hamilton Court was surrounded by a sea of Yale Blue and Gold, and both the Aggie men and women were cheered on by crowds in the thousands. The top attendance for a women’s game was against archrival Chico State — 4,675 fans in a 71-69 win on Jan. 23, 1999.
The Aggie women have three remaining home games as they wrap up their Big West Conference schedule. All are important in their quest for the highest seed possible for the postseason.
So come on out and cheer them on at 2 p.m. Saturday against Hawaii; at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 6, against UC Riverside; and at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 8, against UC Irvine. Grab whatever blue and gold you have and head for The Pavilion!
CHEERS to longtime Davis resident Gavin Payne, a prominent education policy expert, who is directing U.S. programs, policy and advocacy for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, leading a team responsible for developing public policy and investment strategies. The job includes periodic one-on-one meetings with Bill Gates, who plays an active role in the foundation.
Payne, a UC Davis grad, previously served for seven years in Sacramento as California’s chief deputy superintendent of public instruction under Superintendent Jack O’Connell, followed by three years running his own education policy consultancy firm, working with clients around the nation.
It must be cool to call the world’s richest man — and its second leading philanthropist — your boss.