Barbara Couture did not last 3 years on job
Our colleagues at the Las Cruces Sun-News report that Barbara Couture is out as president of New Mexico State University.
Couture, 64, will parachute from the desert with a cool $4543,000 in her backpack.
That is a heavy cost to taxpayers, students and faculty for a bad hire. Couture started work in January 2010, and was ushered out less than three years later.
This mess is squarely on the five-member board of regents, who established too fat a contract for an unproven president. Couture came to NMSU after being a vice chancellor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Her $450,000 payout could have sent a lot of worthy kids to NMSU on scholarships.
Or it could have given 45 outstanding faculty members bonuses of $10,000 each, thereby demonstrating that the regents want to keep proven talent.
NMSU, a land-grant university on the border, has an important and difficult mission. It is supposed to provide access to a university education for people who may not otherwise have that chance.
Ordinary people with big dreams are supposed to be first on the regents' list of priorities.
The regents should keep NMSU's staff and students in mind at all times when they begin the search for a new president.
NMSU needs as president a man or woman of the people, somebody who is excited about being in New Mexico and committed to making the university better, smarter, more accessible, less bureaucratic.
Couture's salary was $385,000 a year, so she is getting more than a year's pay in her severance deal with the regents. She has positioned herself well for retirement or whatever job she lands next.
In contrast, a university built to be everything but elitist has squandered a blueblood's ransom.
Our question remains: Would NMSU be any worse off today if it had hired a hard-driving, ambitious president for $150,000 a year?
The regents ought to guard the public purse when it comes to the next president, then spend more to recruit and retain top faculty members.
A great faculty will improve the university in ways that Barbara Couture obviously could not.