Remembering Diana Natalicio: Community, family, friends gather for Celebration of Life

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EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – A Celebration of Life was held at Centennial Plaza at The University Texas at El Paso where Natalicio was President for 31 years on Sunday, October 24, 2021.

In addition to the celebration, the day was also declared Dr. Diana Natalicio Day by the City of El Paso.

A letter from former President George W. Bush was read by Dr. Richard Pineda associate professor in the Department of Communication at the beginning of the service.

“Diana was determined to make UTEP not only accessible but also an excellent institution of higher learning. By recognizing this bold vision she has left an indelible mark on this university for generations to come. I am grateful for her contributions to El Paso Texas and our nation. She touched a lot of lives and will be sorely missed.”

Read part of the letter from former President George W. Bush

In 1988, she was named the first female President of UTEP. Speakers talked about what Natalicio did to create a student population that reflected the demographics of the region and her determination to make UTEP accessible.

Current UTEP President Heather Wilson spoke about Natalicio’s leadership and announced the Dr. Diana Natalicio Institute for Hispanic Student Success at UTEP.

“Several times in her life Diana declined to have a building named for her. She wasn’t about buildings or short-lived initiatives that fizzle and don’t ultimately satisfy. She was about access and excellence in higher education through lasting research-based seismic change. Particularly for those particularly underserved by higher education,” said Wilson.

The institute will produce research on what works and what doesn’t to promote student success with the goal to develop leaders for Hispanic serving communities and was approved by the UT System.

Diana Natalico’s friend since kindergarten, Sharon Croissant also spoke telling stories about how Natalicio was not named “most smart” in high school, but rather “most likely to succeed”.

“I think our classmates got that one right,” said Croissant.

Natalicio’s Brother Bill Siedhoff speaking saying it was probably one of the hardest speeches he’s ever given.

“The unexpected loss of Diana has shaken me to my core, leaving me bewildered and experiencing an overwhelming sense of loss that words can’t describe. But it is comforting to see all of you here tonight, that is a real testament of the love everyone had for her, and the I know she had for you,” said Siedhoff.

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