Faculty Stories: Barbara Coe

Barbara Coe

Program: Respiratory Care


As a child, Barbara Coe would sit in the back seat of the family car next to her asthmatic brother.

“I remember the noise he made breathing and his struggle for air,” she said. “We have always been very close. It scared me.” 

A respiratory therapist since 1984, Coe has worked at many hospitals and earned specialty credentials in adult critical care, pulmonary diagnostics and asthma education. She also went back to school and completed a Bachelor in Special Education, Deaf and Hard of Hearing, K-12.

A passion for teaching was ignited during her student teaching assignment at Gallaudet University.

“While I’ve always been fascinated by questions of language acquisition, it was my time at Gallaudet in the model high school on campus that electrified my interest in education,” she said. “I arrived shortly after I. King Jordan became the first deaf president. It provided the most honest and, in many ways, most personal education I’ve received to date. Deaf and hearing staff held mandatory meetings on a regular basis to discuss pedagogy with focus on instructor bias in the classroom. These conversations were designed to be uncomfortable as they challenged both the hearing and deaf faculty to constantly reassess behaviors in the classroom that contribute to inclusion for all.”  

Coe, who came to College of DuPage in 2012, was named the College-Wide Outstanding Faculty Member in 2023. She enjoys creating an environment that brings out the best in her students, for whom she has five pieces of advice.

“Ask for help when you need it. Risk failure. Hang out in the ICU where you are assigned, even when your work is complete. You will learn so much just by listening to the attendings, residents, nurses and family members,” she said. “Health care is a team sport, so be reliable and a good communicator on your team. Finally, find opportunity out of difficult situations.”

Learn more about the Respiratory Care program at College of DuPage