Couture, Barbara


Dr. Couture is an accomplished academic leader with over thirty years’ experience in higher education, ranging from posts as university professor to administrative roles as associate dean, college dean, senior vice chancellor for academic affairs, and university president.  During 2013-16, she served as Senior Advisor for the APLU, a research and advocacy organization for public research universities, land-grant institutions, and state university systems. Prior to her APLU appointment, Couture served as President at New Mexico State University (NMSU), a nationally recognized research and land-grant university, designated as a Hispanic-serving institution, and a NASA space grant college.  NMSU has five campuses, including the research campus in Las Cruces and four community colleges, extension offices in every county, and thirteen agricultural research experiment sites. While President, Couture established a set of high-priority goals leading NMSU to strengthen relationships between research and economic development and assure student success; in her final year at NMSU, the university for the first time achieved Tier I status in rankings by US News and World Report, significantly revitalized and strengthened its alumni chapters, and increased faculty hiring and salaries after several years of minimal hiring and stagnant wages.  Before serving as NMSU President, Couture was Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at the University of Nebraska—Lincoln (UNL).  As Chief Academic Officer, she motivated academic deans to re-engage their efforts to recruit and retain students, encouraged the highest enrollments on the Lincoln campus in nearly a decade; initiated efforts to reform general education resulting in an outcomes-based general education program, nationally recognized as an exemplary program by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU); and led efforts to engage UNL in international partnerships, developing targeted partnership degree programs in China, and increased global research opportunities.  Nationally, she chaired the Executive Committee for the Council on Academic Affairs for APLU. Before assuming the UNL appointment, Couture was dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Washington State University (WSU) in Pullman. At WSU, she led the College of Liberal Arts to create a new strategic vision for success, budgeted programs to reward their strategic planning, and provided the catalyst to create a university-wide center for Indian studies. Couture holds bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in English language and literature from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.