Covel — a gifted physician and educator — distinguished himself as a mentor in the fields of medical education and philanthropy. He was an inspiring leader and a true friend of UCLA.
"Few individuals have had so great an impact on our university as Dr. Covel," said UCLA Chancellor Gene D. Block. "As a student, teacher, administrator and fundraiser, he leaves an indelible mark on our campus. His generosity and vision extended far beyond the School of Medicine to programs in science, the arts, student life and athletics. His memory, and especially his broad legacy, will live long at UCLA."
"Dr. Covel was an esteemed friend and colleague and a true philanthropic spirit at UCLA," said Dr. Gerald S. Levey, vice chancellor for medical sciences and dean of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. "He was widely regarded as a wonderful physician, a gifted teacher and a natural leader. While he will be sorely missed, we celebrate his life and his far-reaching contributions to UCLA."
In a tribute to the unflagging spirit of generosity demonstrated by Covel and his wife, Susan, UCLA dedicated the Susan G. Covel and Mitchel D. Covel, M.D., Commons in 1998, an integral part of student life in the northwest area of the campus. Naming the commons at Sunset Village after the Covels, former UCLA Chancellor Albert Carnesale said, was an ideal way to honor them.
"Its location, close to where students live, study and play, with UCLA's full panorama always in view, epitomizes the spirit of Mitch and Susie's gift and the breadth of their commitment to UCLA," Carnesale said.
Covel's association with UCLA dates to 1934, when he enrolled as an undergraduate. He earned his M.D. degree at the University of California, San Francisco, and was decorated for his courageous service as a battalion surgeon during World War II. After returning to Southern California, he established a private practice in internal medicine and cardiology. Covel joined the clinical faculty of the UCLA School of Medicine in 1960 and continued to hold an academic appointment in the school's department of medicine until his passing. While maintaining a private practice, he held numerous teaching and administrative appointments at the school, including an associate deanship.
For more than two decades, Covel led the Aesculapians — the school's premier support organization, which he co-founded in 1974 and chaired — toward raising more than $18 million in vitally needed unrestricted funding for the school. He also co-founded the UCLA Medical Alumni Association.
Covel co-chaired Campaign UCLA, the university's more than $3 billion fundraising campaign. He joined the UCLA Foundation Board of Trustees in 1990 and also chaired the UCLA Foundation and its Board of Governors.
The Covels also made major gifts to support the UCLA College of Letters and Science, the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, the David Geffen School of Medicine and the School of the Arts and Architecture, where an endowed chair in music was established in their name.
Covel is survived by his wife, Susan, and two children, David Giler and Kendall Giler-Bradshaw. A private memorial service will be held by the family, and a special memorial service will be held in his honor at UCLA in the near future.