TIAA Honors Diana Natalicio with 2013 Theodore M. Hesburgh Award for Leadership Excellence

Natalicio recognized for providing educational access to the broader El Paso community

Award bestowed at American Council on Education’s Annual Meeting

New York, March 4, 2013 - The TIAA Institute today announced Dr. Diana Natalicio, president of The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), as the winner of the 2013 TIAA Hesburgh Award for Leadership Excellence. TIAA will bestow this honor today at the American Council on Education’s (ACE) Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.

During her 25 years as the first female president of The University of Texas at El Paso, Dr. Natalicio has guided the institution’s vision to serve talented young people from culturally and socioeconomically diverse backgrounds by ensuring that it offers the full capacity, breadth and innovation of a national research university, while creating access and affordability for a 21st-century student demographic.

“The TIAA Institute is thrilled to recognize Dr. Natalicio’s commitment to create educational access for talented young people, who are critical to the future success of our nation,” said Stephanie Bell-Rose, senior managing director and head of the TIAA Institute. “Her work truly reflects the spirit of both Father Hesburgh and this award.”

Demonstrating The University of Texas at El Paso’s commitment to create access for the majority Hispanic and first-generation students from the broader El Paso region, Dr. Natalicio established financial aid programs to make enrollment possible, and worked to recruit and retain highly successful Hispanic faculty members, whose professional accomplishments could serve as a model for Hispanic students.

"I am deeply honored to be a recipient of the Hesburgh Award and enormously grateful for this recognition of the role that I've been privileged to play over the past 25 years in raising educational aspirations and attainment along this U.S.-Mexico border," Dr. Natalicio said. "From discovering the abundant talent in a region with historically low access to higher education, to building collaborations with partners from pre-kindergarten to college to foster that talent, to aligning access and affordability with excellence, to enabling thousands of young people to achieve the American Dream, I can't imagine any more intellectually challenging and professionally fulfilling work."

Dr. Natalicio’s commitment has been not just to her university, but to the entire surrounding El Paso community. In 1991, she formed the El Paso Collaborative for Academic Excellence, a partnership among The University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso Community College, all nine school districts in El Paso County, and local business and civic leaders, to raise educational aspirations and attainment among young people in the region.

“We face many challenges in higher education, and ACE is proud to join the TIAA Institute in honoring leaders like Dr. Natalicio who are working to promote diversity and access to education for all students,” said Molly Corbett Broad, president of the American Council on Education.

The University of Texas at El Paso has seen impressive metrics during Dr. Natalicio’s tenure. Enrollment has increased from 14,971 to 22,700 students, and the number of doctoral programs offered by the university has grown from one to 19, with more awaiting authorization. Degree completions have also grown dramatically at the institution, with an 85 percent increase in undergraduate degrees awarded over the past decade—more than 80 percent of them to Hispanics.

Dr. Natalicio will receive her award at a luncheon plenary session titled “Prioritizing Completion: A Report from the Commission on Higher Education Attainment” at the ACE Annual Meeting.

Founded in 1918, ACE is the major coordinating body for all the nation's higher education institutions, representing more than 1,600 college and university presidents, and more than 200 related associations, nationwide. It provides leadership on key higher education issues and influences public policy through advocacy. For more information, please visit  or follow ACE on Twitter @ACEducation.

Hesburgh Award Background

Established in 1993, the Hesburgh Award recognizes leadership and commitment to higher education and contributions to the greater good and is presented to a current college or university president or chancellor who embodies the spirit of Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh and his contributions to higher education and society. The winner is selected by an independent panel of judges.

For more information about the TIAA Institute, which manages the Hesburgh Award program, visit  .

About the TIAA Institute

The TIAA Institute helps advance the ways individuals and institutions plan for financial security and organizational effectiveness. The institute conducts in-depth research, provides access to a network of thought leaders, and enables those we serve to anticipate trends, plan future strategies and maximize opportunities for success.

About TIAA

TIAA ( is a national financial services organization with $502 billion in combined assets under management (as of 12/31/12) and is the leading provider of retirement services in the academic, research, medical and cultural fields.

News Release Addendum

Hesburgh Award Winner Bio

Dr. Natalicio was named president of The University of Texas at El Paso in 1988. She currently serves as chair of the American Council on Education. She was appointed by President George H.W. Bush as a member of the Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans and by President Clinton to the National Science Board in 1994, where she served three two-year terms as vice chair.

Dr. Natalicio 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.

Dr. Natalicio received a bachelor’s degree in Spanish from St. Louis University, a master’s degree in Portuguese and a doctoral degree in linguistics from The University of Texas at Austin.

TIAA Hesburgh Award Background

The TIAA Hesburgh award, which includes a $20,000 prize, recognizes a current college or university president/chancellor who:

  • Is a visionary, demonstrating innovative thinking about strategic challenges and opportunities, sustaining the institution’s core values and mission, and adopting strategies to ensure future institutional vitality.
  • Has had or is having, through his/her personal involvement, a positive impact on higher education and/or on society in general through his/her institutional leadership role.
  • Demonstrates collaborative partnerships within the campus or externally that enhance institutional ability to achieve excellence both within the institution and for the greater good.
  • Positions the institution to thrive in an uncertain future, anticipating trends and developing strategies to manage change.

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