Former UTEP President Dr. Diana Natalicio, who led the university from 1988 to 2019, died on Friday at the age of 82, her family announced.

She was the 10th president at the university. Her 31 years at UTEP made her run the sixth-longest of any public doctoral/research university president in history as of her retirement.

Dr. Natalicio was instrumental in her push for access to education at the university. UTEP's enrollment grew from about 15,000 students to 25,000 during her tenure. Also, UTEP added 21 doctoral programs while Natalicio was president. One of the biggest accomplishments was UTEP receiving an R1 top-tier doctoral research university designation from the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.

"It is with a heavy heart that I share the news that UTEP President Emerita Diana Natalicio, who led the University from 1988-2019, has died," wrote UTEP President Heather Wilson in a release on Friday.

"Dr. Natalicio will be remembered by many as a pioneer in higher education. She defied the critics who said it wasn’t possible to open access to higher education to everyone and still offer a top tier educational experience. Her sustained commitment to provide all residents of the Paso del Norte region access to outstanding higher education opportunities has helped make UTEP a national success story. During Dr. Natalicio’s 31-year presidency – the longest of any sitting president of a public research university at the time – UTEP’s student body began to more closely reflect the demographics of the region. The University awarded more than 91,000 degrees during her tenure and was recognized as a national leader for the upward mobility of its graduates. Just a few months before Dr. Natalicio’s retirement, UTEP was designated an R1 research university, placing it among the top 5% of universities nationally for research. The Miner family has lost a great advocate and leader who devoted her life to making a difference in the lives of others. Our hearts go out to all of those whose lives she touched. We mourn the loss of an inspirational leader, and celebrate her legacy of access and excellence that lives on."  - Heather Wilson, UTEP President

Dr. Natalicio was included on the 2016 TIME 100 most influential people in the world. Fortune Magazine also named her one of the Top-50 World Leaders.

UTEP is asking those that want to share a tribute or memory of Dr. Natalicio to complete the form by clicking here. 

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