Diana Natalicio was named president of UTEP in 1988. During her long and distinguished career with the University, Dr. Natalicio has also served as vice president for academic affairs, dean of liberal arts, chair of the modern languages department and professor of linguistics. Her sustained commitment to provide all residents of the Paso del Norte region access to outstanding higher education opportunities has helped make UTEP a national success story.
During Dr. Natalicio’s tenure as president, UTEP’s enrollment has grown from nearly 15,000 to more than 23,000 students, who reflect the demographics of the Paso del Norte region from which 90% of them come. More than 80% are Mexican American, and another 5% commute to the campus from Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. Since 1988, UTEP’s annual budget has increased from $65 million to nearly $450 million. UTEP is designated as a research/doctoral university, recognized nationally for both the excellence and breadth of its academic and research programs. UTEP’s annual research expenditures have grown from $6 million to over $90 million per year, and doctoral programs from one to 21 during this same period. To accommodate steady growth in enrollment, academic programs and research, the university has recently completed nearly $300 million in new and renovated facilities expansion in science, engineering, health sciences, and other student quality-of-life related infrastructure.
Dr. Natalicio has served on numerous boards including Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF), ACT, the Rockefeller Foundation, Trinity Industries, Sandia Corporation, U.S.-Mexico Foundation for Science (FUMEC), American Council on Education (chair), National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME), Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), and Internet 2. She was appointed by President George H.W. Bush to membership on the Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans and by President Bill Clinton to the National Science Board, where she served two six-year terms, including three two-year terms as NSB vice-chair.
In 2016, Dr. Natalicio was honored with the Hispanic Heritage Award in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, and she was included on the 2016 TIME 100 list of most influential people in the world. In 2015, The Carnegie Corporation of New York honored Dr. Natalicio with its prestigious Academic Leadership Award in recognition of her exceptional achievements during the transformation of UTEP into a national public research university.
In 2011, the President of Mexico presented her the Orden Mexicana del Aguila Azteca, the highest recognition bestowed on foreign nationals. She also received the TIAA-CREF Theodore M. Hesburgh Award for Leadership Excellence and the Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education, was inducted into the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame, honored with the Distinguished Alumnus Award at The University of Texas at Austin, and awarded honorary doctoral degrees by Victoria University (Melbourne, Australia), Georgetown University, Smith College and the Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo Leon.
A graduate of St. Louis University, Dr. Natalicio earned a master’s degree in Portuguese and a doctorate in linguistics from The University of Texas at Austin.