By Ben Gonzalez, Vice President for Asset Management and Development
When UTEP President Diana Natalicio announced her retirement, we knew all of us were searching for a way to express our gratitude for her profound impact on students, faculty, staff, alumni and the greater community. Finding the right way to do so wasn’t easy at first. And suddenly, the answer was simple: the best way to say “thank you” is to sustain and enhance UTEP’s commitment to access and excellence.
We, as a Miner Nation, have the opportunity to build on a shared 30-year success story. Whether we are aware or not, our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren are beneficiaries of President Natalicio’s leadership in making a college education possible for everyone in the Paso del Norte region.
The El Paso Collaborative for Academic Excellence (EPCAE) is a perfect example. Established in 1992 through UTEP’s partnerships with El Paso Community College, Region 19 Education Service Center, the El Paso Interreligious Sponsoring Organization and the superintendents of the region’s three largest school districts, EPCAE ensures academic success for all young El Pasoans. Today, Region 19 is the state leader in graduating students who enroll in college, many of whom choose to attend UTEP. More than 80 percent of our more than 25,000 students graduated from regional high schools.
President Natalicio’s portfolio of partnerships also has contributed significantly to degree completion. Collaboration with NASA, Fort Bliss, Automatic Data Processing Inc., IBM, Boeing and Lockheed Martin, to name only a few, has created avenues for UTEP graduates to find success on campus and when seeking employment after graduation.
State-of-the-art facilities have encouraged innovation, and research expenditures have grown from $2.6 million to $95 million.
Doctoral programs have grown from 1 to 22, and the number of doctoral students has grown from 21 in 1988 to 921 this year. Full- time faculty positions have grown by more than 53 percent, and UTEP has added more than $1.4 billion into the local economy each year as El Paso’s fifth largest employer.
Today, students in the Paso del Norte region see college as a natural progression in their education. When they graduate from high school, UTEP will provide unmatched educational experiences that enable them to compete successfully with their peers anywhere across the globe. I oversee eight of those students in the area I manage at UTEP, and they are second to none by any measure in talent, aspirations, resourcefulness, ambition, potential, excellence and humility. Most importantly, UTEP graduates – you, your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren – are among the most successful in the world, proudly representing who we are as a region and a culture.
Launched on Nov. 1, “Thank You for 30” is unlike any other fundraising campaign in UTEP’s history. It grew out of deep admiration for President Natalicio, and provides all of us an opportunity to thank her for her resolute dedication to our future by continuing along the path she has set before us.
Whether you choose to support the “Thank You for 30” Endowed Scholarship Fund with a $30 gift or establish a scholarship or program endowment for $30,000, any amount you choose to give is an investment in UTEP’s continued progress as a world-renowned research university, and, going forward, an investment that will continue to positively impact the future of our region.
Join us on our journey toward a bright future by saying, “Thank You” at 30.utep.edu.