EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Officials with the University of Texas at El Paso announced that the school will pay tribute to the life of UTEP President Emerita Diana Natalicio at a Celebration of Life at 6 p.m. Sunday, October 24, in UTEP’s Centennial Plaza.

Natalicio, who led UTEP for 31 years and was the University’s 10th and longest-serving president, died Sept. 24, 2021, at age 82.

The celebration will be open to the public. It also will be livestreamed via this link

Organizers say the event is an opportunity for UTEP and the El Paso-Ciudad Juárez community to honor Natalicio and reflect on her life and her many accomplishments at UTEP, which stemmed from her deep-seated commitment to access and excellence in public higher education.

“Diana Natalicio’s impact went far beyond the UTEP campus,” said UTEP President Heather Wilson. “She paved the way for thousands of UTEP alumni, many of whom were first-generation college students. She touched a lot of people. This will be an evening to remember her.”

Among those participating will be President Wilson; Bill Siedhoff, Dr. Natalicio’s brother; James B. Milliken, Chancellor of The University of Texas System; Doma Tshering, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Bhutan to the United Nations; Mauricio Ibarra Ponce de Leon, Consul General of Mexico in El Paso; Dr. Gary Edens, UTEP Vice President for Student Affairs; Dr. Howard Daudistel, retired UTEP Senior Executive Vice President;  and Lilian Crouch, UTEP supporter and retired El Paso Independent School District administrator.  

Natalicio’s longtime friend Sharon Croissant also has been invited to share her memories of Natalicio. Grammy Award-winning cellist Zuill Bailey will perform during the event. Two hundred sky lanterns will be released in the air to commemorate Natalicio’s life.

Natalicio became UTEP’s first female president in 1988. At the time of her retirement in 2019, she was the sixth-longest-serving president of any public doctoral/research university. She was also the longest-serving female president of a public doctoral/research university or four-year public university.

During her tenure, UTEP was designated a top tier R1 doctoral research university by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. UTEP’s enrollment grew from 14,056 to 25,151 students, 80% of whom are Hispanic. The number of doctoral programs increased from one to 22. The University’s annual budget increased from $65 million to nearly $450 million.

Natalicio also led UTEP’s campus transformation efforts, which included the 11-acre Centennial Plaza in the heart of campus where her Celebration of Life service will take place.

In lieu of flowers, those who wish to honor Natalicio’s memory can donate to the Dr. Natalicio Legacy Fund at via this link

For local and breaking news, sports, weather alerts, video and more, download the FREE KTSM 9 News App from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store.