William A. Covino is the seventh president of California State University, Los Angeles, leading the institution as it realizes its mission of engagement, service, and the public good. President Covino holds a Ph.D. in English and has published important scholarship on the power and uses of rhetoric, persuasion, and imagination. He is also a nationally celebrated proponent of civic learning.
Since becoming president in September 2013, he has emphasized the importance of a curriculum that prepares students to transform the future and improve the quality of life in Los Angeles and beyond. To achieve this goal, President Covino is leading efforts to closely connect civic learning and community service to many of the more than 4,500 courses and programs that have been reinvented as the University moves from a quarter to semester calendar by fall 2016. He has cultivated new alliances and partnerships that will enrich opportunities for students and the community.
President Covino joined Cal State L.A. following a four-year term as provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Fresno State. There he served as the chief academic officer, providing leadership for the university’s eight schools and colleges, grants and research, the library, continuing and global education, and other academic units of the university. During his tenure, Fresno State increased service learning courses by 75 percent and those courses provided more than 110,000 hours of service to the community in 2011-12. In 2013, then-Provost Covino won the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) William M. Plater Award for Leadership in Civic Engagement.
Prior to Fresno State, President Covino served as provost at California State University, Stanislaus, where he earned recognition from the Carnegie Foundation for successful efforts to increase community engagement and was named in the U.S. President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. He served as dean of the Schmidt College of Arts and Letters at Florida Atlantic University, and has also held faculty positions at the University of Illinois at Chicago and San Diego State University.
During his four-decade career, President Covino’s scholarly accomplishments and specializations have included the history and theory of rhetoric, persuasion, imagination, and literacy. He has authored five books including The Elements of Persuasion and The Art of Wondering, along with numerous scholarly articles, chapters, and presentations.
He is a member of regional and national organizations including the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation, the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, Rotary International, Association of American Colleges and Universities, Western Senior College and University Commission, Coalition of Urban Serving Universities, and Council for Advancement and Support of Education.
A first-generation college student, President Covino moved with his family from Connecticut to the San Fernando Valley when he was 12. He graduated from Reseda High School and attended the University of California, Los Angeles, where earned his bachelor’s degree in English. He holds master’s degrees from California State University, Northridge and the University of Southern California. He earned a Ph.D. in English from the University of Southern California in 1981. President Covino and his wife, Dr. Debbie Covino, have four adult children.