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Names and Places of UTSA: Tomás Rivera

August 18, 2011

Tomás Rivera, the namesake of UTSA’s Center for Student Success, was born in Crystal City, Texas to a family of Mexican-American migrant workers in 1935. At the age of 20, he enrolled in classes at Southwest Texas State University and eventually received both a Bachelor’s degree and a Masters of Education from that institution. He also received a Masters in Spanish Literature and a doctorate of Romance languages from the University of Oklahoma.

Rivera taught in public schools before becoming a professor of Spanish at UTSA in 1971. He was appointed associate dean at UTSA in 1973 and was promoted to vice-president in 1975. He left UTSA to become executive vice-president at the University of Texas at El Paso in 1978. In 1979, Rivera became the first minority chancellor of the University of California at Riverside. He served in that position until his untimely death in 1984.

Rivera was also known as an author of poetry and literature. His best-known work, the novel …y no se lo tragó la tierra (And the Earth did not Part) was published in 1971. He also published numerous poems. In addition to UTSA’s Center for Student Success, a children’s book award , an elementary school, and a library and plaza at the University of California at Riverside have been named after him.


R. R. Hinojosa-Smith, “RIVERA, TOMAS,” Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed August 18, 2011. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

“Tomás Rivera”, Tomás Rivera Center for Student Success. (, accessed August 18, 2011.

“Dr. Tomás Rivera”. The Roadrunner. August 28, 1978.(

2 Comments leave one →
  1. tommy permalink
    December 6, 2011 6:59 pm



  1. Names and Places of UTSA: Tomás Rivera (revisited) | The Top Shelf

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