About President Cottrell


A native of Dallas, Texas, Dr. Debbie Cottrell became the 16thpresident of Texas Lutheran University on July 1, 2019. Prior to assuming the presidency of TLU, she served as Vice President for Academic Affairs at TLU for seven years. During that time, she was involved in the development of new performing arts facilities, the addition of four graduate programs as well as the Nursing program, and a sponsored research program that resulted in external gifts averaging $2 million per year.

Prior to joining the TLU community, Dr. Cottrell served as Provost of William Peace University in North Carolina, where she led academic affairs, enrollment, and student life. She has also served as Associate Dean of the Faculty and Director of Graduate Programs at Smith College in Massachusetts. Dr. Cottrell began her career in higher education at Cottey College in Missouri, where she taught history and government and served as Assistant Dean of the Faculty.

A first-generation college student, Dr. Cottrell holds a bachelor’s degree from Baylor University and a master’s and Ph.D. in History from the University of Texas at Austin. Prior to attending graduate school, Dr. Cottrell taught middle school in Waco and worked as an editor at the Texas Historical Commission in Austin.

Her scholarly interests are in the area of U.S. women’s history and the history of education, along with a distinct appreciation for regional history, particularly the region of Texas. She is the author of a biography of Annie Webb Blanton, an educator who became the first woman in Texas elected to statewide office. This book received the Liz Carpenter Award for Best Scholarly Book of the Year on the History of Women and Texas from the Texas State Historical Association in 1994.

Dr. Cottrell is an active member of the Council of Independent Colleges, which presented her with its Chief Academic Officer of the Year Award in 2017. She also received multiple teaching awards at Cottey. Throughout her administrative career she has continued to teach on occasion, most recently teaching TLU’s Honors Capstone Course in Fall 2018.

She serves on the Executive Advisory Committee for the “Handbook of Texas Women”and has served on multiple accreditation review teams for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Dr. Cottrell is married to fellow historian and native San Antonian, Dr. Alan Cottrell. They have one son, Andy, who is pursuing a master’s degree in medical physiology at Case Western Reserve University. The family also includes dogs Sally (a Jack Russell mix) and Manny (a lab/whippet mix).