In Memoriam: Martín Chavez

Martín Chavez, a member of Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, shown here at the 2010 Alumni Council Reception.

California State University, Dominguez Hills alumnus Martín Donaciano Chavez was devoted to the university, continuing well beyond graduating with a B.S. in public administration in 1982 and a master’s in public administration in 1985. He died on Friday, Sept. 21, after suffering a stroke. He was 53.

Martín served on the Alumni Advisory Council for many years to the time of his death, and had served as president in 2006 when it was known as the Alumni Association. He was part of the leadership committee that organizes the College of Business Administration and Public Policy’s Dean’s Medallion Awards Luncheon, and was on the CBAPP Dean’s Advisory Board for many years. He also served on a number of community-based committees for university, including for the annual President’s Scholarship Reception fundraiser, and was a familiar face at nearly every campus celebration in recent years, from graduation and convocation, to the 50th anniversary events and the ribbon cutting for the library wing.

Deeply engaged in his home town of Compton and having worked at the Port of Los Angeles for decades, Martín helped develop strong connections in his communities, especially in the area of education. Through his work at the port, he took an active role in the International Trade Education Program (ITEP) that provides local high school students with opportunities to learn about international trade.

“Martín was from the toughest part of Compton. Martín made the move [up], by his boot heels. And he did not forget that,” said Terry Molano, associate director of testing office at CSU Dominguez Hills. “That is a really important component of Martín Chavez. He did not forget his background. He did not forget that other people need opportunities, need a helping hand.”

Molano, who worked closely with Martín over the years in the testing office, said that in addition to his full-time job, Martín devoted his Saturdays to serving as a test proctor for the university. It was a job he began doing while an Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) undergraduate student and later stepped forward to supervise and handle the scheduling of numerous other proctors. He continued in both capacities to the time of his death.

“His charisma kept [the proctors] coming back,” said Molano. “He was one of those guys that was just involved. He [made] connections. His passing will leave a giant hole.”

Prior to working for the Port of L.A., Martín was the recruitment officer for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

Martín is predeceased by his father Martín Chavez, and survived by his mother Elvera, and six siblings: Elsa, Cecelia, Daniel, Patrick, Linda and Sarah Serrano, and many nephews and nieces.

Funeral services for Martín Chavez were held on Friday, Sept. 28, at All Souls Mortuary Chapel in Long Beach. An online obituary honoring Martin can be found at

A Martín Chavez Memorial Fund is being established through the university and will benefit students. For more information and how to contribute, please contact Alumni Programs at (310) 243-2237 or visit



  1. My wife is a nurse and professor at a small Catholic college in Los Angeles. Textbook publishers would often send her new textbooks for her to review for her classes. She was obligated to not sell the textbooks after she reviewed them, so she would give them to me and I would give them to Martin Chavez. He would in turn give the textbooks to nursing students at California State University Dominguez Hills that had trouble affording the textbooks (Most sold for over $100 each). It made me happy to see that someone would receive these brand new text books that would appreciate and use them.

  2. Abigail Mendoza says:

    I worked and knew Martin Chavez not just in Dominguez Hills but also in the Port of Los Angeles and the International Trade Education Program and it hit me hard to hear about this news.

    He is a big reason as to why I am where I am, and I will always appreciate everything he has done for me!

    Will miss you always, Martin.

  3. Robert Pittman Jr. says:

    Martin and I attended California State University Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) and achieved our B.S. degrees in 1982. As you know, he continued to achieve his MPA a few years later. My MPA was deferred many years later. However, we reconnected at the CSUDH CBAPP Dean Advisory Board in 2006 and did wonderful things in “giving back” to the university and the community.

    He is a great person that had a “strong will” and his appreciation for education and support of others is what made him special. This is his legacy.

    Martin will be missed!

    Robert Pittman Jr.

    CSUDH CBAPP Advisory Board Member
    CSUDH CBAPP Public Administration Committee Chair
    County of Los Angeles CISO

  4. As a undergrad I was involved on campus — from being involved with ASI to volunteering for events on campus. During one event that was held on campus I was able to meet Martin. I also saw Martin at several events on campus, He was very involved with CSUDH, he will truly be missed by many!!! May he rest in peace!!! His family is in my prayers!!!!

  5. Kenneth Stanberry says:

    From CSUDH to CUSD to POLA I had the pleasure to know and work with Martin. Always willing to help the younger generation he will be misssed. Always ready with the practical advice… the last time we talked I had a chance to say Thank You! RIP Martin

  6. John Steward says:

    My sympathy to the family, CSUDH, The Compton Community and the many that benefited from Martin`s service to society. He gave of himself for many years to the benefit of others. Martin, WELL DONE.

  7. Bill Pena says:

    I graduated in 1979 but knew Martin from M.E.C.H.A. He got me involved. Very nice guy. You can always remember the nice people, even though I have not seen nor heard from him in yrs. But just remember his kindness as a friend during that time of my life.

  8. Carolyn Veek says:

    I was privileged to call Martin my friend for the past 14 years. One of my favorite memories of Martin is while working on my Master’s in Public Administration he would keep encouraging me to get involved with the CSUDH Alumni Association. I kept telling him I would as soon as I finished my MPA. I don’t even think the ink was dry on my degree before he was putting my name forth to become a member of the Alumni Association Board. RIP Martin, you will be missed.

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