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New UTEP president could be named Monday by UT System regents

Vic Kolenc, El Paso Times Published 6:00 a.m. MT March 1, 2019 | Updated 2:55 p.m. MT March 1, 2019CLOSE UTEP President Diana Natalicio details how UTEP stopped trying to be the “Harvard on the Border” and became the best UTEP it can be. Mark R Lambie, El Paso TimesDiana Natalicio to leave after 30…

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Vic Kolenc, El Paso Times
Published 6:00 a.m. MT March 1, 2019 | Updated 2:55 p.m. MT March 1, 2019

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UTEP President Diana Natalicio details how UTEP stopped trying to be the “Harvard on the Border” and became the best UTEP it can be.
Mark R Lambie, El Paso Times

Diana Natalicio to leave after 30 years in high-profile El Paso job

The six-month search for UTEP President Diana Natalicio’s replacement has been completed and her successor is expected to be named Monday.

The UT System Board of Regents, which includes only one El Pasoan — well-known businessman Paul Foster — is scheduled to vote Monday on a finalist or finalists for the position, one of El Paso’s most high-profile jobs.

Natalicio, 79, announced in late May that she would retire from the UTEP presidency, which she’s held for 30 years, after her successor was picked.

She has the longest tenure of any public university president in the United States. 

She is the only woman to have served as president in UTEP’s 104-year history. It has an enrollment of just over 25,000 students — about 80 percent are Hispanic — and an annual budget of $500 million.  

Regents finish candidates’ interviews

The UT System regents on Feb. 27 completed their interviews with candidates for the UTEP presidency. They scheduled a meeting, to be held by conference call, to begin at 11 a.m., El Paso time, Monday. The meeting time was changed Friday afternoon from 10 a.m., to 11 a.m. 

The regents will first meet in executive session to talk about several items, including the UTEP president candidates “and potential naming of finalist(s),” according to the meeting agenda. The teleconference is to be webcast on the UT System website, utsystem.edu.

The regents and UT System officials will not release names of the candidates because those can be kept confidential under the Texas Public Information Act until one or more of them are named finalists.

The regents have not yet announced if one or more finalists would be picked for the UTEP presidency. But in the last several searches for UT System university presidents, the regents selected only one finalist. 

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Candidates names kept secret 

UT System officials also are not disclosing the number of candidates who were forwarded by the UTEP president search advisory committee, which included several El Paso businesspeople, including Foster, UTEP faculty, the UTEP student government president, and UT System officials.

More:Search to replace UTEP President Diana Natalicio must represent all El Paso: Guest Column

The search committee could submit up to 10 president candidates for the regents to consider, under UT System rules. Recommended candidates need to receive a majority vote from the committee to be forwarded to the regents.

Search committee members are required to sign a confidentiality agreement, which stipulates they are not to disclose candidates’ names to the public.

Foster, in an email, said he couldn’t talk about the confidential interviews with candidates. But Foster, said, “we are pleased with the (search) process.”

The Board of Regents’ terms for Foster and two other regents expired in February, but they continue to serve on the board until Texas Gov. Greg  Abbott names replacements.

Karen Adler, director of media relations for the UT System in Austin, said, “The names of candidates are kept confidential to protect the integrity of the search and to ensure the best possible individual or individuals are selected as finalists.” 

After the finalist or finalists are named, the regents then have up to 21 days, under state law, to take a vote to hire the UTEP president. During that period, the finalist, or finalists, go to the university to meet with faculty members, students, and others, Adler said.

Natalicio beats out two men for job

When Natalicio was selected president in February 1988 by the UT System regents, two other finalists, both men from out-of-state universities, were being considered. But the regents opted to go with Natalicio, a longtime UTEP faculty member and administrator who had also served as interim UTEP president for several months before getting the job permanently.

Natalicio is not commenting about anything tied to the presidential search — not even how she feels as her retirement nears, a UTEP spokesman said.

In August, when she announced she’d retire, she said, “I think at this point we’ve accomplished a great deal where we’re coming to a transition point to pivot, and I think this is a really good time for me to make the announcement and give everyone enough time so we can get ready for it.”

Vic Kolenc may be reached at 546-6421; vkolenc@elpasotimes.com; @vickolenc on Twitter.

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El Paso's Crime of the Week seeks man who used cloned debit card at East Side Walgreens

María Cortés González, El Paso Times Published 4:58 p.m. MT March 23, 2019 CLOSE If you know the man who on March 12 walked into the Walgreens at the Fountains at Farah and stole more than $600, you could earn a reward. Courtesy Crime Stoppers of El Paso, El Paso TimesEl Paso police are asking…

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María Cortés González, El Paso Times
Published 4:58 p.m. MT March 23, 2019

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If you know the man who on March 12 walked into the Walgreens at the Fountains at Farah and stole more than $600, you could earn a reward.
Courtesy Crime Stoppers of El Paso, El Paso Times

El Paso police are asking for the public’s help in identifying a man recorded using a cloned debit card at an East Side ATM.

The man managed to take more than $600 in repeated withdrawals from the victim’s account in the Crime of the Week.

At about 8 p.m. March 12, the thief walked into the Walgreens store at the Fountains at Farah shopping center and used the ATM three times.

Afterward, the man walked out and left the area in a dark colored sedan.

He is described as Hispanic, in his 20s or early 30s, with a mustache and beard. The suspect was wearing a yellow jacket and black pants.

Anyone with information on the thief should call Crime Stoppers of El Paso at 566-8477 (TIPS). People also can leave tips online at crimestoppersofelpaso.org

Tipsters can remain anonymous, and if the information leads to an arrest, they can qualify for a cash reward.

More: El Paso’s Most Wanted fugitives for the week of March 18, 2019

More: Fundraiser for El Paso County sheriff’s deputy who was shot in head raises thousands in one day

María Cortés González may be reached at 546-6150; mcortes@elpasotimes.com; @EPTMaria on Twitter.

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El Paso police seek man who stole more than $600 using cloned debit card at Walgreens

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US Rep. Veronica Escobar discusses Heather Wilson, immigration, gun control at town hall

María Cortés González, El Paso Times Published 2:43 p.m. MT March 23, 2019 Buy PhotoU.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-El Paso, answered questions about immigration, gun control and the finalist for University of Texas at El Paso president at a town hall meeting Saturday, March 23, 2019, at Project Amistad, 3210 Dyer St. (Photo: Maria Cortes Gonzalez/El…

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María Cortés González, El Paso Times
Published 2:43 p.m. MT March 23, 2019

U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar took on topics important to the community during a town hall Saturday, including the finalist for president of the University of Texas at El Paso, the burgeoning immigration issue and gun laws.

About 50 people attended the town hall held by the El Paso Democrat at Project Amistad, 3210 Dyer St.

Members of the We the Students Coalition and a parent of a transgender teen who identifies as male expressed concerns about U.S. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson becoming the next UTEP president. She was selected by the UT System Board of Regents as the sole finalist for the job.

“Due to her anti-LGBTQ actions, her track record has shown us she does not represent or welcome our values,” said Mario A. Lindsey, a senior history, philosophy and anthropology major at UTEP. He asked Escobar about the possibility of Wilson’s name being withdrawn as a candidate.

More: UTEP president protest: Groups deliver petition opposing hire of Heather Wilson

More: Heather Wilson visits UTEP to sell herself as the school’s next president, draws protest

Escobar said she believes Wilson will unanimously be made president but said she, too, is uncomfortable with the nomination and applauds students for speaking up. She emphasized she will work with Wilson but will hold her accountable.

“I am going to do my best to walk that fine line of ensuring that UTEP remains successful,” she said, “that I don’t do anything that harms the university or the students there but that I do what I can to protect the vulnerable and lift up their voices and make sure that in my direct conversations with her” they are heard.

After the meeting, Lindsey said Escobar’s answer was safe but positive, adding that he will remain involved in student government to also hold Wilson accountable for any actions that impact the LGBTQ community.

Asked about the immigration issue, Escobar said making asylum seekers return to Juárez while they wait on their asylum claims makes a challenging situation worse because it makes it harder for them to access lawyers.

More: El Paso begins Trump policy that sends migrant asylum seekers back to Mexico

Escobar: US could learn from Jordan how to handle migrant influx

Escobar said the United States could learn from how the Jordanian government is handling the immigration influx from Syria. She recently returned from a trip to the Middle East and visited the Jordanian-Syrian border.

“One point six million Syrians have fled and have come into Jordan. That border is presumably one of the most dangerous borders in the world and has no wall,” she said. “They use technology primarily funded by the American taxpayer. And that’s how they stay secure, and it’s a fraction of what we have been spending on physical barriers.”

Escobar said the country of Jordan has embraced the refugees and integrated them into the country and is processing them in a couple of hours, instead of days like in El Paso.

She said she is asking the commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection to allow volunteers — such as those from Annunciation House — inside the planned central processing center to expedite the processing of immigrants. The volunteers could be there to assist with contacting sponsors and making transportation arrangements for the migrants’ final destinations, alleviating the local burden of feeding and clothing them before sending them on their way after several days.

On the topic of gun control, Escobar said she grew up with guns but sees a need for Congress to pass common-sense laws that protect children.

“Our laws that we are proposing in the U.S. Congress are common-sense laws to close the loopholes and better regulate something that has been undebated in Congress for too long,” she said, adding that the NRA and special interest groups have had an iron grip on the issue.

More: El Paso students join live national school walkout against gun violence

María Cortés González may be reached at 546-6150; mcortes@elpasotimes.com; @EPTMaria on Twitter.

Want more news like this? Click here to subscribe to elpasotimes.com.

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U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar Speaks at El Paso Womens March
Mark R Lambie, El Paso Times

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