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

March 04, 2013

2013 Hesburgh Award

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

​The TIAA-CREF Institute has announced Diana Natalicio, president of The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), as the winner of the 2013 TIAA-CREF Hesburgh Award for Leadership Excellence. TIAA-CRE bestowed this honor today at ACE’s Annual Meeting in Washington, DC.

During her 25 years as UTEP’s first female president, 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-CREF 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-CREF Institute. “Her work truly reflects the spirit of both Father Hesburgh and this award.”

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.

Demonstrating UTEP’s commitment to create access for the majority Hispanic and first-generation students from the broader El Paso region, 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."

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 UTEP, 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-CREF Institute in honoring leaders like Dr. Natalicio who are working to promote diversity and access to education for all students,” said ACE President Molly Corbett Broad.

In addition to receiving this year’s Hesburgh award, Natalicio was elected chair of ACE’s Board of Directors and assumed her role today.  

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