Source: NMSU president could be out by end of week

EL PASO, Texas - New Mexico State University President Dr. Barbara Couture is on leave, the university reported late Tuesday but she could be gone altogether, soon.

ABC-7 has received information exclusively from a source close to NMSU that Couture did not request the leave of absence and she may leave the university as soon as this weekend.

The source told ABC-7 that reasons for the departure include low faculty morale, a poor relationship with the New Mexico state legislature, a failure to save the university's football program and failed accreditation of The Doña Ana Community College nursing program.

ABC-7 learned from the source there was a lack of confidence in Couture among the NMSU Board of Regents and leading university donors.

When ABC-7 initially asked the university for the reason behind her being placed on leave, a spokeswoman released the following statement:

"The NMSU Board of Regents has no comment regarding President Couture and no statement will be released at this time. Dr. Couture is currently on leave. As a public institution, the Board of Regents will follow the rules of the Open Meeting Act regarding any personnel decisions."

Couture began her work as NMSU president in January 2010. The ABC-7 archive lists her annual salary at $385,000, $26,000 more than her predecessor. Couture had an opportunity to earn a half million dollars in a bonus if she chose to stay beyond her five-year contract, according to that same archived script.

As president, she oversees the university in Las Cruces, four community colleges, several off-campus agricultural science centers and cooperative extension offices in 33 counties.

Stay with ABC-7 for updates on this developing story.

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