Dr. Diana Natalicio
Dr. Diana Natalicio
Organization: President, University of Texas at El Paso

Chris Voelz, Executive Director of the Collegiate Women Sports Awards (CWSA) presented by Honda, announced today the appointment of Dr. Diana Natalicio to the CWSA Board of Directors. Dr. Natalicio, President of The University of Texas at El Paso joins the CWSA Board of Directors as a Presidential representative.

"I am always impressed with the perspectives that are offered to our program from those serving as presidential board representatives and I expect Dr. Natalicio, with her wealth of experience, to follow in those valued footsteps,” stated Voelz.

The Collegiate Women Sports Awards (CWSA) program recognizes the accomplishments of outstanding female student-athletes in NCAA-member institutions throughout the United States. The CWSA has honored the nation’s top NCAA women athletes for 40 years, recognizing superior athletic skills, leadership, academic excellence and eagerness to participate in community service.  

Dr. Natalicio was named president of UTEP in 1988. During her long and distinguished career with the University, she has also served as vice president for academic affairs, dean of liberal arts, chair of the modern languages department and professor of linguistics. 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 tenure as president, UTEP’s enrollment has grown from 15,000 to over 25,000 students, who reflect the demographics of the Paso del Norte region from which nearly 90% of them come.  More than 80% are Mexican-American, and approximately 5% commute to the campus from Ciudad Juárez, Mexico.  Since 1988, UTEP’s annual budget has increased from $65 million to nearly $450 million.  UTEP is designated as a research/doctoral university, recognized nationally for both the excellence and breadth of its academic and research programs. UTEP’s annual research expenditures have grown from $6 million to over $90 million per year, and doctoral programs from one to 22 during this same period. To accommodate steady growth in enrollment, academic programs and research, the university has recently committed nearly $400 million in new and renovated facilities expansion in science, engineering, health sciences, and other student quality-of-life related infrastructure.

Dr. Natalicio has served on numerous other boards including The Holdsworth Center, Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF), ACT, the Rockefeller Foundation, Trinity Industries, Sandia Corporation, U.S.-Mexico Foundation for Science (FUMEC), American Council on Education, National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME), Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), and Internet2.  She was appointed by President George H.W. Bush to membership on the Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans and by President Bill Clinton to the National Science Board, where she served two six-year terms, including three two-year terms as NSB vice-chair.

In 2017, Dr. Natalicio was named one of Fortune magazine’s Top 50 World Leaders.  In 2016, she was honored with the Hispanic Heritage Award in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, and she was included on the 2016 TIME 100 list of most influential people in the world. In 2015, The Carnegie Corporation of New York honored Dr. Natalicio with its prestigious Academic Leadership Award in recognition of her exceptional achievements during the transformation of UTEP into a national public research university. In 2011, the President of Mexico presented her the Orden Mexicana del Aguila Azteca, the highest recognition bestowed on foreign nationals. She also received the TIAA Theodore M. Hesburgh Award for Leadership Excellence in Higher Education and the Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education, was inducted into the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame, honored with the Distinguished Alumnus Award at The University of Texas at Austin, and awarded honorary doctoral degrees by St. Louis University, Northeastern University, Victoria University (Melbourne, Australia), Georgetown University, Smith College and the Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo Leon (Mexico).

A graduate of St. Louis University, Dr. Natalicio earned a master’s degree in Portuguese and a doctorate in linguistics from The University of Texas at Austin.

“I am honored to be invited to serve on the Board of Directors of Collegiate Women Sports Awards, an organization charged with honoring female student-athletes who have exemplified leadership, academic achievement, athletic excellence and service to the community,” said Natalicio. “I am always deeply impressed by the amazing young women at UTEP who so successfully combine their athletic and academic achievements, and I know that I will greatly enjoy becoming even more inspired by the wealth of talented and dedicated female athletes who excel on campuses across this country.”

"To be able to attract the caliber of presidential leadership as Dr. Natalicio speaks well for us and our future,” stated Jeanne Lenti Ponsetto, Chair of the CWSA Board of Directors.