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Richard Couper, University Medal recipient, dies


Richard Couper
Richard Couper, 83, a longtime supporter of Binghamton University, died Wednesday, Jan. 25, following a lengthy illness. Couper was president emeritus of the New York Public Library and of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. For 14 years, he was associated with Couper Ackerman Sampson Inc. in Binghamton.

In May of last year, he received a University Medal, the highest honor Binghamton University bestows.

The Couper family has a long history of involvement and commitment to Binghamton University, President Lois B.

DeFleur said. In 1988, the Couper Administration Building was rededicated in honor of Richard Couper’s father, Edgar W. Couper, who served as a member and chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents and was a strong advocate for establishment of the University.

Edgar Couper’s widow, Esther Couper, shared her husband’s commitment to the University and the Southern Tier and continued providing support for the University following his death. She also served as an honorary co-chair of the University’s first comprehensive gifts campaign and was awarded the University Medal in 1995.

When Richard and his sister, Katharine (Kay) Couper Watrous, were honored with University Medals, DeFleur noted that they both had continued and enhanced the “marvelous legacy” begun by their parents, playing a supportive and significant role in the continuing development of the University.

“I personally will miss Dick Couper very much as a friend,” DeFleur said. “I will also miss his very broad and wise perspectives and insights.”

Two endowments established at the University by Edgar and Esther Couper help the University provide support to students:

• The Edgar W. Couper Endowment for Educational Excellence that funds the annual Edgar W. Couper Lecture, which brings prominent educators to campus and also provides support for two Couper Fellows in the School of Education and Human Development doctoral program.

• The Esther Couper Scholarship, which is awarded annually to an undergraduate with an emphasis on recruitment of excellent students.

“The Couper family’s generosity to the School of Education and Human Development is especially noteworthy,” Interim Dean Robert Carpenter said. “Over a dozen doctoral students have completed their studies with the benefit of Couper Fellowships and are now employed in teacher preparation programs and in school leadership positions throughout the Northeast.

“In addition, the Couper Lecture Series is recognized as the high point of the Education Division’s academic year. Dick and Patsy Couper’s abiding interest in education and the preparation of teachers and educational researchers has made a significant influence on these programs at Binghamton.” Richard Couper was a graduate of Hamilton College and Harvard University.

In the 1960s, he served Hamilton College as vice president, acting president and provost and in 1969, he became deputy commissioner of higher education for the New York State Department of Education. He also received the Alexander Hamilton medal from Hamiltion College and was named that school’s volunteer of the year in 2004. Couper also served on more than 60 profit and non-profit boards during his lifetime.

In addition to his sister, Couper is survived by his wife, three children and four grandchildren. A memorial service was held last Saturday in the Hamilton College Chapel in Clinton.
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Last Updated: 10/14/08