ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Barbara Couture’s tenure as president of New Mexico State University ended abruptly today with the board of regents’ acceptance of her resignation in what board Chairman Mike Cheney described as a “mutually agreeable separation.”
Couture has taken a position with the Association of Public Land Grant Universities and will be paid $450,000 severance.
The board did not provide any specific reasons for Couture’s resignation. Cheney said the board would respect the privacy of what he described as confidential personnel matters.
Regents said they plan to appoint an interim president by Oct. 15 and that the search for a new president will begin immediately.
News Release from NMSU:
President Couture leaves New Mexico State University
October 1, 2012
At a meeting of the New Mexico State University Board of Regents Monday, Oct. 1, the board voted unanimously to accept the terms of a separation agreement with President Barbara Couture.
“The resignation of Dr. Couture has been accepted. We thank her for her accomplishments while here and wish her the very best in her continuing educational career,” said Regents Chair Mike Cheney.
Couture has accepted a position as senior adviser for the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.
To prepare for this position and in recognition of her service as president, she has requested and been granted administrative leave through December 2012. Couture will begin work for the APLU immediately while assisting the university with leadership transition. She will not receive a salary from APLU while on leave.
Although not present at the meeting, Couture said in a written statement, “I have great respect for this university and all of the people I have worked with at NMSU. My experience here during the last three years has convinced me of the importance of affecting policy at the national level so that colleges and universities can do a better job of assisting students through scholarship and loan programs. This will be the focus of my work as senior adviser for APLU. NMSU is a wonderful school; with improvements that we have made in faculty and staff wages and increased efficiency during tough times, I believe the university is well positioned to move forward under new leadership. I thank the Regents, my staff, the faculty and the State of New Mexico for the opportunity to serve.”
Details of the resignation are considered a personnel issue and will not be discussed publicly.
Regent Javier Gonzales spoke to the balance between the need to be transparent and the need to respect individual privacy.
“Transparency is a core value of New Mexico State and we remain committed to it. The public without question has a right to know what agreements are made by their university and what actions are taken. But these are sensitive negotiations – people’s livelihoods and reputations are at stake,” Gonzales said. “Respect for the privacy of that negotiating – always with a guarantee that the results will always be public – is an appropriate balance between transparency and respect for individual privacy.”
Chair of the NMSU Faculty Senate, Tim Ketelaar, who serves as an ex-officio member of the board, said the faculty continue their commitment to the students.
“We’d like to reassure the entire NMSU community that throughout these events, faculty have never wavered from our commitment to this great university. Classes have been taught and discoveries and creative activities continue to be produced in our labs and studios,” Ketelaar said. “The Faculty Senate respects and supports the decision by the NMSU Board of Regents. We believe the Regents have made the right decision and they have done so in the right way.”
Cheney said it is the board’s intention to announce an interim president at their regular meeting Oct. 15 and the search for a new president will begin immediately and will be public.