University of Texas at El Paso
1988 – Present
|Preceded by||Haskell Monroe|
August 25, 1939
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.
Early life and career
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. 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.
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.
In 1988, Natalicio became the president of UTEP. She was the school's first female president. 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. Between 1998 and 2013, the university's budget increased from about $65 million to over $400 million, and research expenditures increased ten-fold. The school has expanded its doctoral program offerings from one in 1988 to twenty in 2014.
As of February 2016, Natalicio has served as university president longer than any sitting president at a U.S. major public research university. 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.
Awards and honors
Natalicio won the Harold W. McGraw Prize in Education in 1997. She was inducted into the 1998–99 class of the Texas Women's Hall of Fame. In 2006, Natalicio received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of Texas at Austin. In 2011, the Mexican government recognized Natalicio with the Order of the Aztec Eagle, the highest award given to non-Mexicans. She was the 2013 recipient of the Hesburgh Award from TIAA-CREF. She received the 2015 Carnegie Corporation of New York Academic Leadership Award.
In 2013, Natalicio was elected president of the board of directors for the American Council on Education. 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. Natalicio is on the board of directors for the Hispanic Scholarship Fund. She is a principal investigator in a National Science Foundation program to increase participation in the STEM fields.
- Time 100 Leaders Diana Natalicio Time Magazine, April 2016
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