Diana Natalicio was named president of UTEP in 1988. During her long and distinguished career with the University, Dr. Natalicio has 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 14,971 to more than 23,000 students, who reflect the demographics of the Paso del Norte region from which 90% of them come. More than 78% are Mexican American, and another 6% commute to the campus from Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. UTEP's annual budget has increased from $65 million to more than $400 million, since 1988. 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 more than $84 million per year, and doctoral programs from one to 20 during this same period. To accommodate steady growth in enrollment, academic programs and research, over the past five years the university has managed nearly $300 million in new and renovated facilities expansion projects in science, engineering, health sciences, and other student quality-of-life related infrastructure.
Dr. Natalicio is immediate past chair of the board of the American Council on Education. She has served on the board of trustees of the Rockefeller Foundation, on the board of governors of the U.S.-Mexico Foundation for Science, the NASA Advisory Committee (NAC), the boards of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, Trinity Industries, National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, Sandia Corporation and Internet2, and was appointed by President George H.W. Bush as a member of the Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans. Initially appointed to the National Science Board by President Bill Clinton in 1994, she served two six-year terms as a Board member and three two-year terms as the NSB’s vice chair.
Dr. Natalicio was awarded the 2013 TIAA-CREF Theodore M. Hesburgh Award for Leadership Excellence and was recognized in 2011 by the President of Mexico with the Orden Mexicana del Aguila Azteca, the highest honor bestowed on foreign nationals. She received the Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education in 1997, was inducted into the Texas Women's Hall of Fame in 1999, was honored with the Distinguished Alumnus Award at The University of Texas at Austin in 2006, and is the recipient of honorary doctoral degrees from Georgetown University, Smith College and the Universidad Autonoma 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.