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Health care leader Richard Cordova receives honorary doctorate at Cal State LA Commencement

May 25, 2022

Cal State LA News Service

Cal State LA alumnus Richard Cordova, a longtime leader in health care, delivers remarks after receiving an honorary doctorate at Commencement 2022.
Photo: Cal State LA alumnus Richard Cordova, a longtime leader in health care, delivers remarks after receiving an honorary doctorate at Commencement 2022. (Credit: J. Emilio Flores/Cal State LA)

Richard Cordova, a Cal State LA alumnus and longtime leader in the field of health care administration, received an honorary doctorate during Commencement 2022 at Cal State LA.

Cordova served as a visionary executive and champion for diversity in his profession over a four-decade career. He held leadership positions in public hospitals and health systems in San Francisco and Los Angeles, including serving as president and CEO of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and administrator of General Hospital of Los Angeles County + USC Medical Center, which serves communities surrounding Cal State LA.

Cal State LA and the California State University Board of Trustees conferred an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters to Cordova during an afternoon Commencement ceremony for the College of Business and Economics on May 25.

“In dedicating his career to improving health care access and delivery, while advocating for diversity and representation, Mr. Cordova embodies California State University, Los Angeles’s ethos of engagement and service for the public good and champions the core values of the California State University,” President William A. Covino said, moments before presenting Cordova with an honorary doctoral hood.

During Cordova’s tenure as president and CEO, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles opened a free-standing pediatric center funded by a $1 billion capital campaign, established four ambulatory care centers in neighborhoods that lacked access to pediatric specialty care and won a top-five national ranking for children’s hospitals from U.S. News & World Report.

Cordova, a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives, has been a leading advocate for diversity in health care, and has served as a founding member of the National Forum for Latino Healthcare Executives and chaired the nonprofit Institute for Diversity in Health Management.

Cordova received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Cal State LA’s College of Business and Economics in 1972. The College of Business and Economics is one of Cal State LA’s academic colleges and awards degrees to students who go on to become leaders in business throughout the region and beyond. The college is continuously ranked among the best business colleges in the state and nation by publications such as U.S. News & World Report.

In his remarks to the graduates, Cordova reflected on his journey growing up in Montebello, attending and graduating from Cal State LA and launching his career in health care. He pointed out that 2022 is both the 75th anniversary of the university and the 50-year anniversary of his graduation from Cal State LA.

“Cal State LA made me who I am today, and I hope it’s doing the same for each of you,” Cordova said.

The 2010 Alumnus of the Year, Cordova has given back generously to Cal State LA through service and philanthropy. He is a founding donor for Cal State LA’s Janice Cordova Garden of Well-Being, which is named in honor of his late wife Janice, is a member of the Cal State LA President’s Council, and has served on the College of Business and Economics Dean’s Advisory Board. He also was co-chair for the university’s first capital fundraising campaign, We Are LA: The Campaign for Cal State LA, which raised more than $100 million.

During his inspiring address to the Class of 2022, Cordova shared lessons he has learned throughout his career, including the importance of being a lifelong learner, being kind to your body and mind, staying at the cutting-edge of your profession, recognizing and embracing the inevitability of change, and leading with compassion and from the heart.

He encouraged the graduates to remember where they come from, to give back to their communities and to take risks.

“Congratulations to all of you who are graduating today,” Cordova said. “For you are the generation that’s going to fix all the problems we face today. Take bold steps to make our future a better place.”

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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 26,000 students and has more than 250,000 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.