Skip to main content

Diana Natalicio

President Emerita of
The University of Texas at El Paso

Diana Natalicio served as the 10th president of The University of Texas at El Paso from 1988 to 2019. Her 31-year tenure in the University’s highest office stood as the sixth-longest of any public doctoral/research university president in history at the time of her retirement. It was also the longest term for a female president of a public doctoral/research university or four-year public university at the time.

Before taking the helm as president, Dr. Natalicio served as vice president for academic affairs, dean of liberal arts, chair of the modern languages department and professor of linguistics. The University of Texas System Board of Regents named her President Emerita in August 2019. 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 time as president, UTEP’s enrollment grew from nearly 15,000 to more than 25,000 students. UTEP’s annual budget increased from $65 million to nearly $450 million. The number of doctoral programs increased from one to 22 during this same period. In 2019, the University announced it received an R1 top tier doctoral research university designation from the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.

Dr. Natalicio served on numerous boards including the Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF), Rockefeller Foundation, Trinity Industries, Sandia Corporation, U.S.-Mexico Foundation for Science (FUMEC), American Council on Education, National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME), Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), and Internet2. 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 2019, Dr. Natalicio was named a recipient of the Conquistador Award, the City of El Paso’s highest honor, for her significant contributions to the community. In 2017, Dr. Natalicio was named one of Fortune magazine’s Top 50 World Leaders. In 2016, she 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 2011, the President of Mexico presented her the Orden Mexicana del Aguila Azteca, the highest recognition bestowed on foreign nationals. She 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 St. Louis University, Northeastern University, Victoria University (Melbourne, Australia), Georgetown University, Smith College and the Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo Leon (Mexico).

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.

Memories & Condolences

Share a tribute or memory of Dr. Natalicio by completing the form below

Submit Memories and Condolences

Dr. Diana Natalicio Legacy Fund

Support UTEP's mission in memory of President Emerita Diana Natalicio

Give Today!

Memories & Condolences

Diana was my closest friend; we were very close throughout our lives. We not only shared many happy memories growing up in St. Louis, but she was my eternal travel partner, often traveling the world together. My sister loved El Paso, and she chose to retire here. She loved the weather, the mountains, the food, and the wonderful people. She had a great and accomplished life. She loved UTEP and most of all, she loved UTEP’s students. They are what drove her life’s work, and what provided her greatest satisfaction. She always said, “Talent is everywhere,” and Commencement brought her the greatest joy, recognizing the achievement of those walking across the stage, as she proudly shook each of their hands. She was very happy here, and I thank the El Paso community for embracing her all these years, and for all the love she always received. - Bill Siedhoff Dr. Natalicio’s Brother