Cal State LA president William A. Covino plans to retire at the end of the 2022-23 academic year after a decade of leading the campus of 27,000 students, the university has announced.
Covino announced his decision to step down months after faculty members passed a vote of no confidence in his leadership.
“I am honored to have had the opportunity to serve as President of Cal State LA for 10 years,” Covino said in a statement Thursday. “Providing students with a transformative education that will forever change their lives, the lives of their families and their communities is a lofty goal. At Cal State LA, we hit the mark day after day, year after year.”
Cal State University interim chancellor Jolene Koester credited Covino with increasing graduation rates and advancing the university in the national rankings. In 2017, a study ranked the university first nationwide for upward mobility.
Koester also commended his efforts to provide opportunities for community members from marginalized backgrounds, including the launch of the Prison BA Graduation Initiative, a bachelor’s degree program for men incarcerated at Lancaster State Penitentiary.
But in recent months, Covino’s relationship with the faculty had deteriorated. Members of the Cal State LA Academic Senate condemned Covino after campus police forcibly removed a Cal State LA professor from a mayoral debate in May.
In video of the encounter, which was criticized by mayoral candidates and elected officials, professor and Black Lives Matter leader Melina Abdullah can be heard posing as the professor and yelling, “You’re hurting me. ‘ as four campus police officers physically removed her from a seat in the fraternity theater.
Shortly thereafter, 40 senators, or 91% of those who took part in a vote, supported the motion of no confidence.
At the time, a professor described the incident as “the straw that broke the camel’s back” after years of frustration at what the faculty described as a pattern of insensitive treatment of marginalized communities.
Some parishioners called on the president to resign for not taking responsibility for the encounter. Covino said he would not have approved Abdullah’s removal from the debate if he had been consulted.
Prior to arriving at Cal State LA, Covino served as provost and vice president of academic affairs at Cal State Fresno and as provost at Cal State Stanislaus. He began his career as an assistant professor at San Diego State University.
Cal State officials said they were conducting a national search for Covino’s successor.
https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-08-19/cal-state-la-president-to-retire Cal State L.A. President Covino to retire after 10 years