Covino announces retirement at 2022 convocation along with other big changes


Photo courtesy of the Cal State LA website

President William Covino poses for a photograph.

President William Covino mentioned a lot of new improvements and changes to the campus like new “community service” officers to build trust with the Cal State LA community during the 2022 Convocation that took place in the Luckman Theater the week before the Fall 2022 semester starts.

But the most surprising thing he revealed was his retirement. 

“I have been here for 10 years now as president and this will be my last year. I will be retiring in June 2023,” Covino said. 

Most of the staff and faculty didn’t know before this announcement. The senior director for university events and protocol, James Cuaresma, was surprised to hear Covino’s plans for retirement. 

“He has been with the university now for almost 10 years and this is a period that a lot of campus presidents tend to serve as presidents for other universities,” Cuaresma said. “It was a surprise definitely because personally, I didn’t have any knowledge of it. But I wish him good luck and I know that he has done a great job with the university.”

There were reports of student protesters at the Convocation, demanding change from Covino. The University Times was unable to get more information about this by the deadline.

Covino’s retirement comes following many unhappy faculty and students calling for his resignation after faculty member and co-founder of Black Lives Matter LA, Melinda Abdullah, was forcibly removed from a mayoral debate held on campus near the end of the Spring 2022 semester.

Before this retirement announcement, Covino revealed new initiatives for the campus.


“Under the stellar leadership of Dr. April Clay, [Counseling and Psychological Services] is beginning this year with a full complement of psychological counselors,” Covino said.

In previous semesters, students were vocal about improvements that were needed for Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). This included the fact that there were vacancies in counselors, leading to an even bigger student-to-counselor ratio and longer wait times.


For the first time in history, Cal State LA got a gold star from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.

According to The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) website, Cal State LA is able to self-report along with other colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. 

“STARS is intended to engage and recognize the full spectrum of higher education institutions, from community colleges to research universities. The framework encompasses long-term sustainability goals for already high-achieving institutions, as well as entry points of recognition for institutions that are taking first steps toward sustainability,” the STARS website said. 


The Department of Public Safety has hired a new group of Community Service Officers.

“The primary role of Community Service Officers is community outreach and engagement,” Covino said. “These six new members are part of our collaborative efforts to reimagine law enforcement on campus and to build trust with the community we serve.”

These officers are trained in first aid, CPR, conflict de-escalation, and mental health first aid, according to Covino.

Covino said that these officers are supposed to be a middle ground between Eagle Patrol and public safety officers and will be unarmed and highly visible on campus. They’ll provide safety escorts, patrol parking lots, and serve the campus with safety officers.


Along with Community Service Officers, there will be a new community care program, run through Counseling and Career Services. This will include Community Care Advocates (CCA).

“Community Care Advocates are trained in mediation, conflict resolution, and peacebuilding,” Covino said. “They can assess and peacefully diffuse a situation… minimizing the need to involve public safety officers.” 

CCA will be guided by CAPS director April Clay and includes student, faculty, and staff advocates. Student advocates will include interns from academic programs such as counseling, psychology, social work, criminal justice, and nursing.

“Working closely with the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion team, the faculty and staff CCAs host, and support workshops, presentations, and other programming highlighting ways that common, everyday practices may serve to alienate or otherwise disparately impact first-generation and students of color,” the Cal State LA webpage states.


Covino also announced that this last fiscal year was the biggest philanthropic year on record with more than $16.5 million in gifts. These gifts support students, programs, faculty, research, and community service and included more than 16,000 donors, according to Covino.


A new project, the Los Angeles Innocence Project at Cal State LA is also coming to campus. This project will be directed by Paula Mitchell and will be housed in the College of Health and Human Services

Initially, the program is to receive a $1 million gift by exoneree Andrew Wilson.

According to Covino, Wilson spent 32 years in prison, and Mitchell and her team worked for two years on his legal paperwork, which led to Wilson being exonerated. 

James Thomas, a professor of political science and pan-African studies who attended the convocation, thought Covino’s plan to retire was timely and the initiatives were good. 

“There were some really good initiatives that were introduced, which kind of solidifies the narrative that these are things that happen very quickly that he could have done this way before now,” Thomas said. “But by and large, I think this is an opportunity for us to really build the university that we want to see, the open community-oriented university that we’d like to see.”