UTEP Gets New President Despite LGBTQ Protests Against Heather Wilson
The UT Board of Regents voted in the replacement for outgoing president of the university, Dr. Diana Natalicio, but there are many on campus and in the El Paso community who are not happy with the board's pick.
Dr. Heather Wilson was unanimously voted the next president of UTEP by the board on Tuesday. Before their vote, the board heard from several public speakers who asked the not to vote for Wilson. El Paso billionaire businessman Paul Foster made the motion to appoint Wilson. Foster said he has no reservations about Wilson.
The Board of Regents came under fire for conducting the search for Natalicio's replacement behind closed doors. They did not make the names of the possible candidates public, and only announced Wilson as the only finalist last month. Before the vote, Wilson tweeted that she was resigning her position with the government which signaled that a vote on her would be just a formality.
Wilson's previous voting record against LGBTQ rights as a New Mexico Congresswoman, and votes against black and Hispanic universities raised concern among some students, faculty, staff and elected officials in El Paso. As recently as last week, State Senator Jose Rodriguez released a statement against Wilson's appointment.
El Paso State Rep. Lina Ortega released this statement after the Wilson vote:
"I am disappointed that the selection process did not produce a candidate who is more attuned to the unique needs of a border community," Ortega said in a statement. "It is my expectation that all members of the UTEP community, including students, faculty, and staff, should be treated with dignity and respect. In particular, members of UTEP’s LGBTQ community, members of UTEP’s immigrant community, and members of UTEP’s ethnic and religious minority communities should be treated in a respectful and dignified manner at all times. I will respond to any discriminatory acts, policies, or practices by future UTEP leadership disregarding the above with immediate public and political opposition."