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Meet President Debbie Cottrell

TLU's 16th President

Dr. Debbie Cottrell is a native of Dallas, Texas. Prior to assuming the presidency of TLU in 2019, she served as Vice President for Academic Affairs at TLU for seven years. As president, she has led TLU in creating a new strategic plan that focuses on strengthening the student experience; diversifying academic programs; furthering a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion; enhancing financial stability; and creating strong community partnerships. She has overseen programmatic growth, including the addition of TLU’s first doctorate program, and geographical expansion, including a TLU Nursing program presence in Houston. In the presidency, Dr. Cottrell has drawn on her work as chief academic officer, including in the areas of facilities expansion and growth in sponsored research opportunities.

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 and worked as an editor at the Texas Historical Commission in Austin. Following completion of her Ph.D., she began her college teaching career at Cottey College in Missouri. She subsequently held administrative positions at Smith College in Massachusetts and William Peace University in North Carolina. 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.

Dr. Cottrell serves on the Board of the Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas and is active in numerous programs of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, the Council of Independent Colleges, the Network of ELCA Colleges and Universities, and the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference.

Dr. Cottrell is married to a fellow historian, Dr. Alan Cottrell. They have one grown son, Andy, a second-year medical student.

President Cottrell, her son Andy, and her husband Alan
President Cottrell with her son, Andy, and her husband, Alan.