President's Biography

President Covino

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, President Covino 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, he 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 in fall, 2016. He has cultivated new alliances and partnerships that will enrich opportunities for students and the community.

President Covino has overseen the establishment of Cal State LA’s Center for Engagement, Service, and the Public Good, which consolidates and strengthens community service and service-learning opportunities. Under his leadership, the University has also launched a bioscience incubator that will promote economic development in the region. Through Civic University, a partnership with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, the University is helping to train civic and community leaders. The program exemplifies President Covino’s commitment to increasing civic participation.

President Covino is leading initiatives to strengthen ties with alumni and supporters of the University. As a result of these efforts, Cal State LA has received more philanthropic support than in any other year in the history of the University. He has also formed the President’s Council, which includes more than 40 influential corporate executives, philanthropists and civic leaders who are helping advance the goals of the University.

As part of President Covino’s philosophy of putting students first, enrollment at Cal State LA is at an all-time high and the University has opened a new campus in downtown Los Angeles. Through the Mind Matters initiative, President Covino and First Lady, Dr. Debbie Covino, are aiding student success by providing resources for physical and mental well-being.

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, Board of Directors for the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities, Council for Advancement and Support of Education, and UNITE-LA.

President Covino joined Cal State LA following a four-year term as provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Fresno State. He is a past recipient of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) William M. Plater Award for Leadership in Civic Engagement.  Prior to Fresno State, he served as provost at California State University, Stanislaus and as dean of the Schmidt College of Arts and Letters at Florida Atlantic University. He has also held faculty positions at the University of Illinois at Chicago and San Diego State University.

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 Dr. Debbie Covino have four adult children.