Ryan McDonald

Big gift from Hermosa man’s estate endows chair at Dominguez

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Lyman Chaffee helps two students in an undated photo. The former Hermosa resident was a previous winner of CSU Dominguez Hills’ Outstanding Professor Award. Photo courtesy CSUDH

by Ryan McDonald

Lyman Chaffee had the chance to visit over 70 countries before passing away earlier this year. Now, thanks to a generous bequest from the former Hermosa Beach resident, students at Cal State Dominguez Hills, where Chaffee spent years as a professor, will have the chance to do the same.

The Carson university announced last week that a $1.725 million legacy donation from the estate of Chaffee, who died April 28, would establish the L.G. Chaffee Chair of Global and Comparative Politics. It will be the first endowed chair in Dominguez Hills history, according to a statement from the university, and Chaffee’s donation is the largest gift ever provided by a faculty member.

Along with the named faculty position, the bequest includes: $100,000 for political science majors to study abroad: $100,000 for the university’s Office of International Education; and $25,000 for the Del Amo Scholarship fund, which provides money to students studying in Spain, where Chaffee studied when he was a student and where he focused some of his later scholarly writing.

“When he was young, Lyman spent a year in Spain that had a real impact on him. It introduced him to the many benefits of international relations and travel and how important it is for students to experience it, particularly those interested in politics,” Chaffee’s sister Martha Stang said in the university’s statement. “The first trip to Spain continued to influence him, and led to his conviction that student travel not only broadens a person’s understanding of the world, but also of the issues faced by different countries and their cultures.”

Chaffee grew up in Pasadena, attended Occidental College and served in the Marine Corps, according to an obituary published in the Los Angeles Times. He received his Ph.D. in political science from UC Riverside. As a professor at Dominguez Hills, he specialized in Spain, Portugal, and Latin America, writing extensively on the labor movement in Argentina. In 1993, Chaffee published “Political Protest and Street Art: Popular Tools for Democratization in Hispanic Countries,” a lauded examination of murals, graffiti and more in the Basque country, Brazil, and Argentina. He spent more than 30 years as a professor at Dominguez Hills, serving as department chair and winning the university’s Outstanding Professor Award.

“Many of our alumni can attest to the zeal and passion Dr. Chaffee displayed each day, as will many of our students who will value his generosity for years to come,” said CSUDH President Willie Hagan.

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