UTEP President Diana Natalicio has earned another honor, being recognized as one of El Paso’s most pivotal leaders by CommUnity en Acción, a group of business and civic leaders who work to bolster the region’s Hispanic community.
President Natalicio was awarded the organization’s inaugural Leadership Trailblazer award, which was presented during the 2nd annual Latino Legacy Awards y Fiesta event at El Paso Community College’s Administrative Services Center.
“I’d like to express my sincere appreciation to CommUnity en Acción for bestowing this outstanding Leadership Trailblazer award to me at this time,” President Natalicio said. “It is a deep honor and it is truly gratifying to know that CommUnity en Acción has recognized the work that we do at UTEP.
“UTEP is a member of a communitywide team of individuals and organizations that work very, very hard to support our efforts and to mentor young people, to help them better understand the opportunities that lie before them and to reinforce their efforts to become better educated. CommUnity en Acción is a very special partner. It is an organization whose priority is the education of young people and promoting their success. That coincides very well with UTEP’s priorities. On behalf of everyone on the campus, I want to express my appreciation to CommUnity en Acción for everything it does to support this community and The University of Texas at El Paso.”
CommUnity en Acción leaders said President Natalicio was selected for the award based on the physical and academic growth that has occurred on campus during her tenure, which has happened in tandem with a demographic shift in student population to one more representative of the region.
President Natalicio has accomplished this feat without sacrificing quality in education, the organization said, allowing throngs of students to realize their higher education dreams.
“During her 30 years, Dr. Natalicio dramatically increased the number of minority students attending UTEP, especially the percentage of Hispanic students from 53 percent to 82 percent, which more adequately represents the region’s population,” said Richard Castro, chair emeritus of CommUnity en Acción.
“During Dr. Natalicio’s tenure, the University dramatically grew in the number of doctoral programs it offers and has received millions of dollars in research grants. She truly deserves being named one of the most influential women in the world.”
President Natalicio announced in May that she will retire after 30 years in the highest leadership role at The University of Texas at El Paso. She was named UTEP President in 1988.
She initially arrived on campus in 1971 when she accepted a position as an assistant professor in the Department of Linguistics. President Natalicio’s tenure makes her the longest-serving current president of a public doctoral/research university in the country. She will remain in office until her successor is named.
In her time at UTEP, she has deftly guided the University to national prominence as a research institution, all the while being relentless in ensuring access and affordability for the student population that it serves.
In 2016, the Brookings Institution recognized UTEP with a No. 1 ranking among all U.S. research universities for fostering social mobility. But President Natalicio maintains that any success attributed to her is the product of a collaborative effort and a collective buy-in to a mission of facilitating student success for the region’s underserved population.
She added that community partners are instrumental in achieving those goals.
“UTEP has always been committed to creating opportunities for El Paso’s young people — all of them — to have access to a very high-quality education,” President Natalicio said. “When I first became President, UTEP didn’t look like El Paso. We were demographically misaligned. One of the greatest satisfactions that we all have now is that UTEP’s student population mirrors the population of El Paso County. So, we now look like El Paso. We could not have done that without the support and the good will of community partners such as CommUnity en Acción. It is wonderful to know we have partners in the community who support the efforts of our students.”
The award recognizes an individual who has profoundly impacted the lives of Latinos in our community, the organization said. Natalicio received the award on Saturday, October 13, 2018