Diana Natalicio

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Diana Natalicio
President of
University of Texas at El Paso
In office
1988 – Present
Preceded by Haskell Monroe
Personal details
Born Diana Siedhoff
(1939-08-25) August 25, 1939 (age 79)
St. Louis, Missouri
Alma mater University of Texas at Austin (Ph.D.)
Awards Texas Women's Hall of Fame

Diana Natalicio (born August 25, 1939) is an American academic administrator who serves as president of the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). After growing up in St. Louis, Natalicio studied Spanish as an undergraduate, completed a master's degree in Portuguese and earned a doctorate in linguistics. She became an assistant professor at UTEP in 1971, and was named the first female president of the university in 1988. As of February 2016, no incumbent president had been in service longer at a major public research university. In 2016 Natalicio was named to Time Magazine's list of 100 most influential people.[1]

Early life and career[edit]

Natalicio was born Diana Siedhoff in St. Louis. Her father Bill owned a small retail business and her mother Jo was a homemaker. Natalicio said that when she entered Saint Louis University (SLU), she realized that her high school preparation had been subpar. While she said that she was behind in math and literature, Natalicio had taken Spanish in high school and had an aptitude for it.[2] She earned an undergraduate degree in Spanish at SLU and was a Fulbright Scholar in Brazil. She completed a master's degree in Portuguese and a doctorate in linguistics at the University of Texas at Austin.[3]

In 1971, Natalicio came to UTEP. She was hired as an assistant professor, and later served as the modern languages department chair, dean of the liberal arts college and vice president of academic affairs.[4]

UTEP presidency[edit]

In 1988, Natalicio became the president of UTEP. She was the school's first female president.[4] One of her initial goals was to recruit a student body that reflected the demographics of El Paso County. The student body was 50 percent Hispanic in 1988; that figure had increased to 66 percent by 1998, not including approximately 1300 Mexican nationals.[3] Between 1998 and 2013, the university's budget increased from about $65 million to over $400 million, and research expenditures increased ten-fold.[4] The school has expanded its doctoral program offerings from one in 1988 to twenty in 2014.[5]

As of February 2016, Natalicio has served as university president longer than any sitting president at a U.S. major public research university.[6] She has been criticized for low graduation rates during her tenure (13 percent in 2013, compared to 2.6 percent in 1999), but she has said that graduation rates are not the most important measures of a university's success.[4]

Awards and honors[edit]

Natalicio won the Harold W. McGraw Prize in Education in 1997.[7] She was inducted into the 1998–99 class of the Texas Women's Hall of Fame.[8] In 2006, Natalicio received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of Texas at Austin.[9] In 2011, the Mexican government recognized Natalicio with the Order of the Aztec Eagle, the highest award given to non-Mexicans.[10] She was the 2013 recipient of the Hesburgh Award from TIAA-CREF.[11] She received the 2015 Carnegie Corporation of New York Academic Leadership Award.[12]

In 2001, Natalicio received an honorary Doctor of Laws from Smith College.[13] She was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Georgetown University in 2011.[14]


In 2013, Natalicio was elected president of the board of directors for the American Council on Education.[15] She served on the Committee on Underrepresented Groups and the Expansion of the Science and Engineering Workforce Pipeline of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.[16] Natalicio is on the board of directors for the Hispanic Scholarship Fund.[17] She is a principal investigator in a National Science Foundation program to increase participation in the STEM fields.[18]


  1. ^ Time 100 Leaders Diana Natalicio Time Magazine, April 2016
  2. ^ Huff, Dan (December 25, 2005). "Diana Natalicio". El Paso Inc. Retrieved March 30, 2016.
  3. ^ a b Morthland, John (September 1998). "Education: Diana Natalicio". Texas Monthly. Retrieved March 30, 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d Hamilton, Reeve (March 11, 2013). "After 25 years, UT-El Paso president still making waves". The Texas Tribune. Retrieved March 30, 2016.
  5. ^ Salamon, Jeff (December 2014). "Far from the madding crowd". Texas Monthly. Retrieved March 31, 2016.
  6. ^ "UTEP's Natalicio recovering at home; "profoundly moved" by outpouring of concern". elpasoheraldpost.com. February 26, 2016. Retrieved March 31, 2016.
  7. ^ "Past Recipients of the Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education". Harold W. McGraw Prize in Education. Archived from the original on March 13, 2016. Retrieved March 30, 2016.
  8. ^ "Diana Natalicio". Texas Women's Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on February 8, 2013. Retrieved March 30, 2016.
  9. ^ "Distinguished Alumnus Award". Texas Exes. Retrieved March 31, 2016.
  10. ^ Hernandez, Danya (December 13, 2011). "UTEP President Diana Natalicio decorated by Mexican government". Scripps Howard Foundation. Retrieved March 30, 2016.
  11. ^ "Previous Winners of the TIAA-CREF Theodore M. Hesburgh Award For Leadership Excellence". Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association. Retrieved March 30, 2016.
  12. ^ Ford, Celeste (September 24, 2015). "2015 Academic Leadership Awards announced". Carnegie Corporation of New York. Retrieved March 30, 2016.
  13. ^ "Honorary degrees". Smith College. Retrieved March 31, 2016.
  14. ^ "Honorary degree recipients". Georgetown University. Retrieved March 31, 2016.
  15. ^ "University of Texas at El Paso President Diana Natalicio elected board chair of ACE". American Council on Education. March 4, 2013. Retrieved March 30, 2016.
  16. ^ Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation. National Academies Press. 2011. Retrieved March 31, 2016.
  17. ^ "Diana Natalicio". Hispanic Scholarship Fund. Retrieved March 30, 2016.
  18. ^ "Diana Natalicio". National Science Foundation. Retrieved March 31, 2016.