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Remembering Tomás Rivera

Friends, Colleagues Gather April 29th to Recall What Happened "After the Rain"

A public event marks the 25th anniversary of the inauguration of Tomas Rivera as Chancellor of UC Riverside

(April 19, 2005)

Tomás RiveraEnlarge

Tomás Rivera

RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( -- On April 28, 1980, an unusually heavy rain cut short the inauguration ceremony of Tomás Rivera, the first Latino Chancellor in the University of California system. He never gave his inaugural address.

That address will be read in public for the first time at 7 p.m. Friday, April 29, 2005, at UC Riverside during a day-long public celebration of the 25th anniversary of the inauguration called, "After the Rain: The Legacy and Life of Tomás Rivera."

Professor Juan Felipe Herrera, the scholar who holds the newly endowed Tomás Rivera Chair in Creative Writing, will deliver the long-delayed inaugural address during a multi-media performance that includes video, music and readings that tell the story of Chancellor Rivera.

"Chancellor Rivera was such an important role model to young scholars, despite the fact that his life was cut short by a heart attack. He developed a lasting legacy of vision, creativity and compassionate leadership," said Herrera. "It is a privilege to be able to read his words, especially since no one heard them the first time."

Herrera has gathered scholars for a keynote speech and a panel discussion from 1 to 5 p.m. in the University Village Conference Room. It will end with the presentation of the Tomás Rivera Lifetime Achievement Award to 97-year-old Dr. Luis Leal, a professor emeritus of Chicano Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a mentor to Chancellor Rivera.

A reception will follow at 6 p.m. in the UCR Commons, before the 7 p.m. multi-media performance that includes video, music and live readings by friends, family and colleagues. It also includes the reading of the inaugural address. Carlos Cortes, a professor emeritus of history at UC Riverside, will narrate the evening performance, called "Tomás Rivera: Celebration of a Life. The story of Tomás Rivera as told in his own words and those of his friends and admirers."

The event is open to the public. The cost is $20 per person, although UCR students may attend without cost. There is seating available for 60 people at the conference and 250 people at the evening performance. Those wanting to attend should reserve a space through the Office of Governmental and Community Relations, at (951) 827-5184.

"This event builds on the Rivera Conference, held at UCR starting in 1987," said Concepcion "Concha" Rivera, the widow of the late Chancellor. "Twenty-five years ago the inauguration ceremony really hit some wrong notes. For instance, I was injured that day, and then the ceremony was rained out. But the sun has come out now, and we can see Tomás' leadership and legacy. We have the perspective to see how much he accomplished in his life and how much he mattered to the world."

Others who have received the Tomás Rivera Lifetime Achievement Award over the years are the late Mexican-America folk singer Lalo Guerrero; former California Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso; former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Henry Cisneros; United Farm Workers co-founder Dolores Huerta; James Erickson, a former vice-chancellor for Advancement at UCR; and Arturo Madrid, a professor at Trinity University and the founding president of the Tomás Rivera Center, the nation's first institute for policy studies on Latino issues.

"After the Rain" The Legacy and Life of Tomás Rivera

Friday April 29, 2005
1 pm to 9 pm

1 pm Registration -- Chancellor's Conference Room Room 206, University Village

1:30 pm Welcome and Overview of Conference
Concha Rivera, Conference, Co-Chair
Juan Felipe Herrera , Professor & Tomás Rivera Chair holder, University of California, Riverside

2 pm Keynote Presentation

"A Conversation on the Future(s) of Latina Literature"
Dr. Alvina E. Quintana, Professor of Literature, University of Delaware

3 pm Tomás Rivera Lifetime Achievement Award
Presented to: Dr. Luis Leal, Endowed Chair, Chicano Studies, UC Santa Barbara
Presented by: Concha Rivera & Dr. Maria Herrera-Sobeck

3:30 pm BREAK

3:45 pm Tomás Rivera Video: on the Development of Tierra
Juanita Luna, Professor of English, San Antonio Community College
Panel: Juan Felipe Herrera, Professor, Tomas Rivera Endowed Chair
University of California, Riverside
Eliud Martinez, Professor of Creative Writing Emeritus,
University of California, Rivera

5 pm BREAK

6 pm Reception
International Lounge
University Commons

7 pm Tomás Rivera: "The Celebration of a Life, a story in the words of Tomás Rivera, his friends, and his admirers."

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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