The foundation's first scholarships were awarded in 1991-92 to two students enrolled at the University of New Mexico-Valencia Campus. Anne Carol Hyde, a Texas native, relocated to the Valencia County area in June of 1986. Her family's first residence in New Mexico was in Senator Chavez's birthplace, Los Chavez. Cheryl Lynn O'Brien, a longtime resident of Valencia County, and the other initial scholarship recipient, is a native New Mexican. Subsequent recipients include Loretta Martinez, 1993, who attended the UNM-Los Alamos campus, and, in 1995, a student at the UNM Gallup campus. Additionally, the foundation has awarded two fellowships to Rose Diaz, in 1996-97 and 1998-99. Ms. Diaz, working out of the UNM campus in Albuquerque, is completing a doctoral dissertation exploring the life and political times of Senator Chavez.
In the late 1980's the foundation published a monograph entitled El Senador about the life and times of Senator Dennis Chavez. Co-written by Arthur R. Gomez and the Senator's granddaughter, Cissie Coy, the book describes Dennis Chavez's life in general, and then looks at his specific interest in and concern for human rights, democratic government, and post-WWII growth.
The Dennis Chavez Symposium
The first Dennis Chavez Symposium was held on April 18, 1997 at the UNM Continuing Education Center. Focusing on the environment, civil rights, legislation, and education, the symposium brought together scholars, jurists, politicians, and government administrators. A special guest, Father Robert F. Drinan, SI, Professor of Law, Georgetown University, joined the panel discussing civil rights, and was the guest speaker at a foundation fundraising reception held the night before the symposium. During the reception, honor was bestowed upon New Mexican Senator Pete Domenici as the first recipient of the "Dennis Chavez Excellence in Public Service Award." A second symposium is scheduled for April, 2000.
Statue in Downtown Albuquerque
At noon on November 12, 1999, on Albuquerque's downtown Civic Plaza, the City of Albuquerque, in conjunction with the Dennis Chavez Foundation, dedicated a statue honoring the Senator. Slightly larger than life, the statue, in the words of sculptor Cynthia Rowland, "documents a commonplace yet celebrated event in the life of... Senator Chavez." As history tells it, Senator Chavez was walking through downtown Albuquerque when he was recognized and approached by a viejita and invited to sit down and discuss an issue over a hand-rolled cigarette. Accepting the invitation, Senator Chavez sat and conversed with the same concern and sincerity that he would have accorded a diplomat. It is this literal and conceptual portrait, of a leader speaking willingly and informally with one of his constituents, which was embodied in Rowland's statue of granite and bronze.
Capitol Hill Statue
In line wit long-time custom, each state is able to place two statues in the United States Capital Building in Washington, D.C. Standing in the hall of this public building is a life-size bronze statue of Senator Dennis Chavez, a tribute from his beloved New Mexico. At the foot of the statue is an inscription in three tongues: English, Spanish, and Navajo. The inscription reads, "We have lost our voice. The March 31, 1966 dedication of Senator Chavez's Capitol Hill statue was attended by Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, and United States Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren, both of whom, along with U.S. Representative Henry Gonzales of Texas and other dignitaries, spoke in tribute to Senator Chavez.
Establishment of Archive at UNM
In 1985, following the donation of Senator Chavez's papers by the Chavez family, an archive was established at UNM's Albuquerque campus. The inventory of the Senator's records was completed in 1995.
National Dennis Chavez Day
In 1988, during the centennial celebration of Senator Chavez's birth, President Ronald Reagan declared a nationwide Dennis Chavez Day.
United States Postal Service Stamp
In 1991, the United States Postal Service issued a 35-cent stamp honoring Senator Dennis Chavez, in its Great American Series of stamps. This stamp series, initiated in 1980, recognizes those who made significant contributions to the heritage and culture of the United States. Others who have been recognized in the series include President Harry S. Truman, Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren, Journalist Walter Lippman, and Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black. Senator Chavez was the first native New Mexican of Hispanic descent to be recognized by the United States Postal Service.
Additional Awards and Honors
Recognition by Foreign Countries
In September of 1961, Senator Chavez was presented with the top award of Mexico, the Order of the Aztec Eagle, First Class, by Mexican Ambassador Antonio Flores. Earlier, in 1951, the Republic of Panama awarded him the Vasco Nunez de Balboa decoration as an outstanding friend of that country. Senator Chavez is also appreciated and recognized by the commonwealth of Puerto Rico, for his efforts to secure statehood for the Spanish-speaking commonwealth.
The Federal Courthouse Building in downtown Albuquerque, which he fought so hard to preserve, bears Dennis Chavez's name, as do Dennis Chavez elementary schools in Albuquerque and Los Chavez. Senator Chavez has also been honored with the naming of Dennis Chavez Park in southeast Albuquerque, and Dennis Chavez Boulevard on the West Side of Albuquerque. On April 8, 1988, the centennial anniversary of the birth of Dennis Chavez, a New Mexico Senate Joint Memorial designated April 8 through April 15 Dennis Chavez Week in New Mexico. The memorial called upon state government agencies, private and public institutions, and all the people of New Mexico to voluntarily observe Dennis Chavez Day and Dennis Chavez Week with appropriate programs, ceremonies, activities and festivities, "so that the accomplishments of the man we praise shall long endure, so that the memory of the man we honor shall last forever;…"