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President Covino commends Cal State LA at historic Spring Convocation

February 14, 2017

In his first Spring Convocation address, President William A. Covino praised the University community for Cal State LA’s growing national prominence and the success of its students.

“Our prominence continues to grow because of the dedication and accomplishments of our outstanding faculty, staff, students and alumni,” Covino told the gathering in the Golden Eagle Ballroom.

The inaugural Spring Convocation coincides with Cal State LA’s 70th anniversary. The University graduated its first class in 1948. There were only seven students.

“Our first graduates would not recognize the campus today,” Covino said during the Feb. 14 event. “Applications for Cal State LA have reached a new high.”

The University has received 57,000 applications for the fall 2017 semester.

Student life and school spirit have also grown, evidenced by an increase in student organizations and student participation in clubs and organizations, the president noted. Last week’s basketball homecoming games drew the highest attendance in recent memory.

Covino used the address to again acknowledge the uncertainty faced by international students, faculty and staff, as well as Dreamers since the November election and the executive order regarding travel. He reiterated his and the University’s support.

“We are a welcoming and inclusive university that prizes learning, critical inquiry, and social justice,” he said. “At all points, we will continue to protect the richness of our community as an essential element of the public good and our dedication to the free exchange of ideas.” 

Counseling and Psychological Services has implemented a new approach to service that has decreased the amount of time students must wait to receive services.

“In 2013, the wait time for counseling services was often several weeks. Now students who request services will be seen, in most cases, that same day,” Covino said. The improvement “will contribute immeasurably to student success and well-being.”

The Mind Matters initiative, started by Covino and First Lady Debbie Covino, continues to integrate health and well-being into the fabric of University life. Mind Matters offers videos and podcasts, visits by therapy dogs and cats, a speaker series and more. Last week the Reverend Gregory J. Boyle visited Cal State LA as part of the Mind Matters Speakers Series. Boyle is the founder and CEO of Homeboy Industries and author of Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion

During a listening tour last fall, Covino heard from the University community on a number of issues, including food choices on campus, parking, and sustainability. In response, food choices have been expanded, as well as hours of operation. A food pantry for students will open in March.

The president congratulated University Advancement, noting recent gifts of $1.5 million from The Ahmanson Foundation and $7 million from alumna and former faculty member Patricia A. Chin and her husband William Chin. “Fundraising continues to reach new highs.”

Covino capped his remarks with comments on a groundbreaking national study on upward mobility. Results of the study conducted by The Equality of Opportunity Project were published in the New York Times. The study found that Cal State LA has propelled a higher percentage of students from the bottom fifth of income into the top fifth of U.S. earners.

“The University is number one in the nation for affecting the upward mobility of our students,” Covino said, adding that the success reflected the hard work of students, faculty and staff. “That’s just an amazing achievement, and it’s yours.”

Photo: President William A. Covino lauded the University at a historic Spring Convocation. (Credit: J. Emilio Flores/Cal State LA)

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Cal State LA is ranked number one in the nation based on the upward mobility of its students. Founded in 1947, Cal State LA is the premier public comprehensive university in the heart of Los Angeles and is dedicated to the mission of engagement, service, and the public good. The University serves more than 27,000 students and more than 247,000 distinguished alumni, who are as diverse as the region we serve. Led by an award-winning faculty, the University offers nationally recognized programs in science, the arts, business, criminal justice, engineering, nursing, education and the humanities.

Cal State LA is home to the critically-acclaimed Luckman Fine Arts Complex, Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs, Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center, Hydrogen Research and Fueling Facility, Billie Jean King Sports Complex and the TV, Film and Media Center. For more information, visit