Ask President Covino

Photo of President William A. Covino.

As Cal State L.A.'s new president, I would like to hear from you.

I welcome all questions, particularly those regarding my vision for CSULA, and how the university may better serve the campus community, the region and California. But the question is your choice, so ask away.

I may not be able to answer all questions submitted but I hope you will find this a useful way for us to become acquainted.

Thank you.
William A. Covino

*Please submit only one question at a time.

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Q: Welcome President Covino. Why are we converting from quarter system to semester? How will our unit cap be determined as well as tuition?

A: There have been extensive discussions about the merits of converting from a quarter calendar to semesters, and we’ll begin that conversion process this fall, with our first year on semesters beginning fall 2016. We'll be in touch with students at key points in the process, and provide advising about unit caps and associated matters.

Q: Cal State L.A. unfortunately suffers from a severe lack of branded identity. One trip to our bookstore will show you that we're confused about who we are, from our name to our school colors. It's difficult to foster a unique CSULA identity while trying to be the Dodgers, the Lakers, etc. What will you do to bring about a stronger branded identity here on campus?

A: I plan to begin discussions this fall that will involve us in determining some consistent and engaging ways to express who we are and what we stand for. Thanks very much for the observation.

Q: Dear President Covino: As an AB540 student, me and many other students have found it difficult to navigate the Admissions and Financial Aid process. Other CSUs have appointed specific new offices to help AB540 students, while our Financial Aid office is under staffed and lacking in information. What are your plans to make AB540 and other undocumented students feel more included and welcome in our school?

A: My plans are to continue to make Cal State L.A. a welcoming place for all students, including AB540 students. Luz Borjon, EOP counselor, is the person designated to assist students who have questions about AB540. Borjon and Frank Cornelio, a recruiter in Outreach and Recruitment, provide students with information about their status as AB540 students in addition to information about admissions, financial aid, etc.

Q: Given that the CSU's budget hasn't received cuts this budget year and, in fact, the system has received more money than in previous years. What are your plans to ameliorate the class cuts we have received? As a graduating senior, I still was not able to enroll in all the classes I needed this quarter and my graduation is now under question of happening. Thank you for your attention.

A: The University is committed to doing everything it can to meet student demand to ensure timely graduation and has added many classes this fall to accommodate pressing student needs. Our first priority has been to enable students to enroll in at least 12 degree eligible units to qualify as full-time students to meet federal and state requirements. We are also working to address the unmet needs in specific areas and departments on a case by case basis, and we will do our best to identify and correct as many of these unmet needs of our students as possible. I've referred your question to the Dean of Undergraduate Studies, who will be in touch with you.

Q: What are your thoughts on shared governance? After five years at CSULA, I'm feeling it doesn't exist. Or in the least it in short supply. In the past, it appears that most administrators were more fearful of displeasing (and losing their position!) the president than doing what was in the best interest of students or the university. Is shared governance a priority for you?

A: Yes. The institution always benefits from broadly-based input and deliberation.

Q: A warm welcome to you, President Covino! Historically, CSULA has been a commuter campus. In your vision for student success and graduation, what role does student engagement play?

A: Student engagement is a key to success: engagement in the classroom, engagement in public service, engagement through internships and professional training provided in our cities and communities. Supporting and increasing student engagement is very important to me, and I will be proposing initiatives that strengthen our commitment in this area.

Q: Thank you for providing the opportunity to ask questions! Will there be a way for students, faculty, and staff to propose value-added ideas to high level administration?

A: Yes. I will be meeting regularly—both formally and informally—with faculty, staff, and students to listen to ideas and concerns.

Q: Hello and welcome president Covino, I have recently heard the University's social media sites use the slogan Here4You directed toward students. Many of us feel that the administration (financial aid, the advising center, etc.) is not quite there for us. How will you ensure students will have the support necessary to complement the amazing faculty we have on campus to achieve student success?

A: I will be meeting with student leaders regularly to share information and hear concerns. I hope that these meetings make me aware of areas in which we can improve. Supporting our students' progress toward degree is a very high priority.

Q: Dear Mr. President: Do you foresee Cal State L.A.'s Film and TV program as being as competitive and profitable as other CSU campuses in Los Angeles?

A: I'm very impressed by what I've learned about the program so far, and think that it has the potential to become a state-of-the-art venture that rivals similar programs in the CSU and elsewhere.

Q: As a CSUEU Union Representative, I have observed throughout the years that there has been low morale on campus for quite some time due to many factors but mainly management treatment of employees. From your point of view, why do you think that is and what can we do to fix it?

A: I have not been here long enough to give you a well-informed response, but hope to learn in the coming weeks and months where there are opportunities for improvement, and how, in particular, we can maintain and support the dedication and high morale I've already noticed in a number of cases.

Q: Hi President Covino. Is it true that CSULA will be converting into a semester school? If so, when will this go into effect?

A: Yes, we will be moving from a quarter calendar to a semester calendar. We expect the semester calendar to be in effect by fall 2016.

Q: Welcome! During the recent budget cuts, we have all had to do more with less. That's reality. Some of our staff recognition events have been cut or scaled back as well. If the budget is more stable, do you see some of these recognition events or campus gatherings returning to Cal State L.A.?

A: I think it's important to both keep costs contained and to find occasions to reward and celebrate each other. I especially enjoy opportunities to say thank you to everyone who helps make this a great university. So yes, I will be open to restoring some events and gatherings that have been cut.

Q: Welcome to CSULA President Covino. I look forward to seeing you around campus. My question is… How will you work to improve collaboration on campus among faculty, staff and administration? Thank you.

A: Let's start with what we all agree is most important: student success. This goal involves all of us: the faculty who teach our students, the staff members who advise and greet and support our students, the facilities staff who keep the campus running and clean and welcoming, and so forth. Collaboration always works best when all of us at the table share a common goal, and can offer different perspectives for approaching it.

Q: Hi President Covino. What will be your top priority or issue to address when classes begin this fall?

A: The two questions I will ask consistently as we consider how best to move forward, are 1) How can we best assure that all of our students successfully earn a degree that is rigorous, current, and rewarding? and 2) how can we as a university contribute to the greater good, especially the quality of life in Los Angeles and beyond?

Q: Hello President Covino and welcome to Cal State L.A. Can you describe what it takes to be a good leader at an urban university, such as CSULA?

A: I have found the best leaders to be much more interested in the strengths, talents, and passions of those around them, than in their individual achievements. With that in mind, I think that leading a great university in a great city requires becoming a strong partner, an institution that understands the opportunities and challenges that define the Greater Los Angeles area, and fuels the innovation, service, creativity, scholarship and economic and social mobility that make both the university and the city great.


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