The TIAA-CREF Theodore M. Hesburgh Award for Leadership Excellence is named in honor of the Reverend Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., president emeritus of the University of Notre Dame and former member of the TIAA-CREF Board of Overseers. A nationally renowned educator and world humanitarian, Father Hesburgh is considered one of the most influential figures in higher education in recent history. He was also a member of the TIAA-CREF Board of Overseers for 28 years.
The award recognizes leadership and commitment to higher education and contributions to the greater good. It is presented to a current college or university president or chancellor who embodies the spirit of Father Hesburgh, his commitment and contributions to higher education and society. The award is administered by the TIAA-CREF Institute and presented at the American Council on Education annual meeting.
The 2013 TIAA-CREF Theodore M. Hesburgh Award for Leadership Excellence was awarded Dr. Diana Natalicio, president of the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP).
From left to right: ACE President Molly Corbett Broad, Diana Natalicio and TIAA-CREF EVP Ed Van Dolsen
During her 25 years as the first female president of the University, Dr. Natalicio has guided the institution’s vision to serve talented young people from culturally and socioeconomically diverse backgrounds by ensuring that it offers the full capacity, breadth and innovation of a national research university, while creating access and affordability for a 21st-century student demographic.
“The TIAA-CREF Institute is thrilled to recognize Dr. Natalicio’s commitment to create educational access for talented young people, who are critical to the future success of our nation,” said Stephanie Bell-Rose, senior managing director and head of the TIAA-CREF Institute. “Her work truly reflects the spirit of both Father Hesburgh and this award.”
Demonstrating The University of Texas at El Paso’s commitment to create access for the majority Hispanic and first-generation students from the broader El Paso region, Dr. Natalicio established financial aid programs to make enrollment possible, and worked to recruit and retain highly successful Hispanic faculty members, whose professional accomplishments could serve as a model for Hispanic students.
"I am deeply honored to be a recipient of the Hesburgh Award and enormously grateful for this recognition of the role that I've been privileged to play over the past 25 years in raising educational aspirations and attainment along this U.S.-Mexico border," Dr. Natalicio said. "From discovering the abundant talent in a region with historically low access to higher education, to building collaborations with partners from pre-kindergarten to college to foster that talent, to aligning access and affordability with excellence, to enabling thousands of young people to achieve the American Dream, I can't imagine any more intellectually challenging and professionally fulfilling work."
Dr. Natalicio’s commitment has been not just to her university, but to the entire surrounding El Paso community. In 1991, she formed the El Paso Collaborative for Academic Excellence, a partnership among The University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso Community College, all nine school districts in El Paso County, and local business and civic leaders, to raise educational aspirations and attainment among young people in the region.
The Award was presented to Dr. Natalicio at the Annual Meeting of the American Council on Education in Washington, D.C. on March 4, 2013.
“We face many challenges in higher education, and ACE is proud to join the TIAA-CREF Institute in honoring leaders like Dr. Natalicio who are working to promote diversity and access to education for all students,” said Molly Corbett Broad, president of the American Council on Education.
The University of Texas at El Paso has seen impressive metrics during Dr. Natalicio’s tenure. Enrollment has increased from 14,971 to 22,700 students, and the number of doctoral programs offered by the university has grown from one to 19, with more awaiting authorization. Degree completions have also grown dramatically at the institution, with an 85 percent increase in undergraduate degrees awarded over the past decade—more than 80 percent of them to Hispanics.
2013 Theodore M. Hesburgh Award Brochure (PDF)