Covino congratulated faculty, students and staff for their ambitious efforts that have resulted in new partnerships and collaborations, enabling the university to fulfill its mission of engagement, service, and the public good.
The president opened his August 17 address by reflecting on his first Convocation in 2013, when he issued a call to action for Cal State LA to become “the engine of urban and regional transformation.”
“Faculty, students and staff answered that call,” Covino told the hundreds of guests who filled the Luckman Theatre for the annual event marking the beginning of a new academic year. “Through service learning that places thousands of Cal State LA students in the communities every semester. Through new partnerships, collaborations and initiatives designed to grapple with the opportunities and challenges that Los Angeles offers. And because we answered the call, we are transforming our students and the communities of Los Angeles more dramatically than any other university in the region.”
During the past five years, Covino noted, the university has achieved impressive accomplishments. Most notably, Cal State LA was ranked number one in the nation for the upward mobility of its students. The university also received the Eddy Award from the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation for its contributions to the regional economy. And in May, Cal State LA was among just 33 universities across the nation and the only public university in California to be selected by the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities as an anchor institution. The designation recognizes Cal State LA’s central role in working with public agencies and private partners to improve and transform the economic vitality and social well-being of surrounding communities.
“We have demonstrated that universities can and must extend their reach beyond the walls of the institution and into our communities,” Covino said. “The university of the 21st century is a university that transforms people and places. The times in which we live, are calling—demanding—for us to be more.”
The president lauded the success of We Are LA: The Campaign for Cal State LA, the university’s first comprehensive fundraising campaign, which was launched in April. So far, University Advancement has raised $48.5 million and cultivated more than 5,000 donors, which is a record number. That tally included 1,400 student donors.
The president also introduced a new partnership with Everytable, which will offer affordable fresh, nutritious meals on campus. Its mission is to make healthy food accessible to all by basing costs on the income of the residents in the neighborhoods it operates. Cal State LA’s proceeds from Everytable will help establish a community impact fund to help create programs and initiatives on campus and in the community to enhance nutrition education, address food insecurity and hunger and foster emerging entrepreneurship.
These new programs are part of the university’s wider efforts to promote wellness, spearheaded by the Mind Matters initiative. Mind Matters was created by the president and First Lady Debbie Covino to promote well-being and provide resources and training to help students navigate the stress and anxiety associated with academic success. He noted that more than 700 faculty, staff and students have been certified in Mental Health First Aid, learning skills necessary to identify and assist those in need of mental health resources.
President Covino welcomed new College of Arts and Letters Dean Linda Essig, Erika J. Glazer Family Dreamers Resource Center Director Henoc Preciado and 34 new faculty members.
Covino acknowledged the current divisive political climate and recent troubling news events, including the uncertainty surrounding DACA students, the separation of migrant families at the border and the police shootings and criminalization of African Americans. The unsettling nature of these events has impacted the university community, especially students. The president reaffirmed the university’s commitment to support its students.
“At Cal State LA, we will not allow that toxic climate to determine the manner in which we relate to our students or to each other,” Covino said. “We will stand for the values and principles that are central to higher education and to a civil society. We will stand for our students. And we will stand for the communities and the region we serve, simply because this is who we are.”
Photo: President William A. Covino speaks to hundreds gathered in the Luckman Theatre for Fall Convocation. (Credit: Ty Washington/Cal State LA)
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California State University, Los Angeles is the premier comprehensive public university in the heart of Los Angeles. Cal State LA is ranked number one in the United States for the upward mobility of its students. Cal State LA is dedicated to engagement, service, and the public good, offering nationally recognized programs in science, the arts, business, criminal justice, engineering, nursing, education, and the humanities. Founded in 1947, the University serves more than 28,000 students and has more than 245,000 distinguished alumni.
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 www.CalStateLA.edu.