The Prospector

UTEP President speaks about retirement plans and her hopes for UTEP’s future

President+Natalicio+addresses+the+media+in+accordance+with+the+news+of+her+retirement+on+Tuesday%2C+May+22+at+the+President%27s+Office.
President Natalicio addresses the media in accordance with the news of her retirement on Tuesday, May 22 at the President's Office.

President Natalicio addresses the media in accordance with the news of her retirement on Tuesday, May 22 at the President's Office.

Gaby Velasquez

Gaby Velasquez

President Natalicio addresses the media in accordance with the news of her retirement on Tuesday, May 22 at the President's Office.

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UTEP President Diana Natalicio made a surprising announcement about her plans to retire Tuesday, May 22, in the morning through a press release.

According to a statement by Natalicio, she plans to retire once a successor has been appointed and assumes the office.

There are no current candidates and the search process could take anywhere from six to nine months, according to Natalicio.

“I will be happy to serve as long as I need to in order to make a smooth transition,” she said during a press conference at the President’s Office Tuesday afternoon.

Natalicio said she would like to see her successor continue a commitment to access to a public higher education, particularly with low income and underrepresented students.

“Everybody focuses a lot on excellence, everybody wants to be prestigious, everybody wants to rank high, but there’s not a lot of focus on access, which is creating opportunities to people who wouldn’t otherwise have them,” she said. “And I think that public higher education is extraordinarily important because all the data show that low income students don’t have access to higher education anymore.”

She believes the increased cost of higher education is affecting students’ decisions on pursing a degree, but that UTEP remains focused on providing access while maintaining the quality of that education.

“At the same time that we’re competing with a lot of our sister institutions in terms of excellence, we’re also doing the work that many of the aren’t doing, which is creating opportunities for social mobility for people of modest means.”

President Natalicio addresses the media in accordance with the news of her retirement on Tuesday, May 22 at the President's Office.

She said that a successor who embraces that commitment is critical, and without it she believes that UTEP will not serve the region well.

During the press conference Natalicio also spoke about the changes to UTEP’s campus over the years including the multimillion dollar renovation that is now the Centennial Plaza and the effect it’s had on people who step onto the campus.

“That’s changed people’s behavior on the campus. Physical space does make us do things differently so people gather and they spend time out there when they didn’t used to,” Natalicio said. “The trees have grown; the shade is increased and people spend more time there. Being surrounded by beautiful things or attractive space; I think makes us all behave better.”

Natalicio said that UTEP will continue to grow in numerous ways even after she leaves including broadening and solidifying doctoral programs and research revenues. She also said that the number of El Pasoans receiving degrees from UTEP will increase due to the ongoing relationship between El Paso Community College and local school districts.

Natalicio expects that every UTEP student will continue to find phenomenal jobs after graduating.

“Education really is the single most important pathway to a better life, to prosperity,” Natalicio said.

Natalicio feels most proud of those graduates who have come in and out of UTEP, along with the change in the demographic composition of the students.

“That’s probably the biggest satisfaction is just the number of people who fly through here,” Natalicio said.

Although she is not going anywhere yet, she plans to make El Paso her home after she retires.

If she could do anything differently over the last 30 years as president she said, “to win football games.”

Here is a link to the Facebook Live video of Dr. Natalicio’s press conference:

Live press conference from President Natalicio's office.

Posted by UTEP Prospector on Tuesday, May 22, 2018

 

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UTEP President speaks about retirement plans and her hopes for UTEP’s future