UMC Links

Orlando Rivera, University of Utah Diversity Pioneer, Dies

Feb. 16, 2006 – Orlando A. Rivera, Ph.D. 1930-2006

Orlando A. Rivera, former associate vice president of Academic Affairs and a pioneer in the early history of the Ethnic Studies programs at the University of Utah, died Sunday, Feb. 12, at his home in Bountiful, Utah.

Rivera played key roles in the beginnings of the Center for Ethnic Student Affairs (CESA) and other minority-related programs at the University. He served as the third associate vice president for diversity. In that position, and in his various other roles at the University and in the community, Rivera made meaningful contributions to the development of many programs and supported and mentored many students, faculty and staff. Rivera was instrumental in the creation of the Chicano Scholarship Fund and various student organizations operated through CESA.

Off campus, Rivera was the primary force behind the creation of the community organization now known as Centro de la Familia (originally the Institute for Human Resource Development) and was a constant presence and solid leader in a variety of community organizations such as Spanish-speaking Organization for Community, Integrity and Opportunity (SOCIO). He served on many important community boards and organizations, including Intermountain Health Care, Utah State Department of Social Services and the Utah Governor’s Office of Hispanic Affairs. In October of 2004 he was awarded the Cesar Chavez Peace and Justice Award by the Utah Coalition of La Raza.

The Salt Lake Tribune reported that Rivera was admired not only for his work in education, but also for his “dedication to poor families, migrant workers and the Latino community.”

Many University campus veterans will remember Rivera for his tireless dedication to promoting diversity and educational equity for minority students. Rivera was responsible for paving the way for much of the success that minorities have had within the University and the local community.

Rivera is the husband of Irene Martinez Rivera. The couple has four children, Arturo, Patricia (Patrick) Lucero, George (Heidi), and Selena (Justin) Berg, and eight grandchildren.