New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy Speaks to Political Science Class
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy joined political science students in a class called "New Jersey Politics and Governance." Murphy was interviewed by a small panel of students on a wide range of topics and also took questions from the audience. It was Murphy’s second visit to Seton Hall.
The student panel was comprised of Thomas Fee, a sophomore studying political science and communications from Monmouth County, New Jersey; Aisha Coello, a sophomore in the dual degree track for political science and law, from Bayonne, New Jersey; Neha Asif, a sophomore, also a political science major in the dual degree law program from Old Bridge, New Jersey; Aidan Hanson, a sophomore political science major from Connecticut; Joshua Vargas, a sophomore political science major in the 3 + 3 law program from Verona, New Jersey; and Ava Kierney, a sophomore political science major from Whippany, New Jersey.
The students learned that Murphy originally had plans of being a musical theater actor but continued by graduating with an economics degree from Harvard and received his MBA from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania in 1983. An internship at Goldman Sachs pushed him into a finance career. Working for over twenty years at Goldman Sachs in 1982 and ending in 2003 as a member of the firm’s management committee.
The students expressed their interest in how Governor Murphy first became interested in public service and politics in particular. Murphy responded by explaining that like many people growing up in Massachusetts, his family had pictures of "John F. Kennedy and the Pope side-by-side" hanging in the household. "Politics was important," he said. Murphy explained that his hope and goal in entering politics and seeking the office of governor was that New Jersey would become a "fairer and stronger" state through and because of his leadership.
Murphy’s rise in public service, the students learned, was gradual. As he approached his exit from finance, in 2002 he began his involvement with "180 Turning Lives Around," a Monmouth County women’s shelter where he ultimately served as board president from 2005 until 2009. That experience led the Governor and First Lady to found the teen helpline "2nd Floor." He held the position as national finance chair of the Democratic National Committee from 2006 to 2009. From 2009 until 2013 Governor Murphy served as the United States Ambassador to The Federal Republic of Germany, appointed by President Obama. And on January 16, 2018, he took the oath as governor of New Jersey. Murphy ran for re-election to the office and won – the first Democratic governor to serve a second term in the state in 44 years. Under New Jersey law, however, Murphy cannot seek a third consecutive term.
While Murphy and the students discussed a wide variety of issues – including cannabis sales, educational policy and income inequality – Murphy declined to get involved in future political predictions. Asked who he might endorse in the next gubernatorial election; Murphy quipped, "Your professor, Matt Hale." Hale declined the endorsement.
When Hale was asked to teach a class on New Jersey Politics he wanted it to be new and different for his students. "It felt like for the subject to be real for students we had to bring in the people who are actually living and doing the politics of our state," he said. To help with this and to bring a real world perspective Hale turned to Dan Bryan, a former senior advisor to Governor Murphy. "I really enjoyed this class and all of the Seton Hall students. It has been fun watching them get excited about New Jersey politics and I hope that this class will encourage them to jump into the game," said Bryan.
Murphy was one of many guests interviewed by the students over the course of the semester. Other class guests included: Alex Wilkes, Communications Director for the New Jersey Republican Party; Kevin McCabe chairman of the Middlesex County Democratic Party; and Michael Cesa, chair of New Jersey League of Municipalities. David Wildstein of the New Jersey Globe and Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Poll along with numerous other New Jersey political players and experts also spoke to the class.