Debbie Cottrell

A familiar face to the Texas Lutheran University faculty and student body is taking the reins as the local college’s newest president.

The Board of Regents has officially named TLU Vice President of Academic Affairs Debbie Cottrell as the 16th president.

“We are thrilled that Dr. Cottrell will serve as TLU’s next president,” said Lewis Westerman, TLU Board of Regents Chair and senior director for the Pearl Brewery, LLC and Silver Ventures, Inc., in San Antonio. “Dr. Cottrell’s leadership in establishing new academic programs and her active engagement in growing enrollment and improving the student experience while vice president for academic affairs has made a significant impact on TLU. She is a nationally recognized leader in her field.”

Cottrell was chosen to head up the university after a search committee made up of seven Board of Regents, three faculty members, two staff members and a recent alumnus kicked off the presidential search in January. The committee also hired TBC Search Consulting who assisted in the publishing of the Presidential Search Profile.

The search began following Dr. Stuart Dorsey’s announcement to retire last September.

“The broad institutional knowledge that Dr. Cottrell brings to her new position and her clear passion for TLU make her uniquely qualified to lead as we strategically plan for the institution’s growth and success in the future,” Westerman said.

Cottrell received her Bachelor of Science degree in secondary education from Baylor University and her masters and Ph.D. in history from the University of Texas.

Cottrell as served in various roles at a number of colleges and universities, including provost at William Peace University in Raleigh, North Carolina; associate dean and director of graduate programs at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts and a professor of history and assistant dean of the faculty at Cottey College in Nevada, Missouri.

In 2017, she was recognized by the Council of Independent Colleges for her contributions to “academic leadership and enhancing the role and work of the private college chief academic officer.”

As the chief academic officer for TLU since 2012, Cottrell has “proven a record of leading change,” Dorsey said.

“Debbie deserves much of the credit for the transformation of our academic programs which includes launching our nursing program and our first four master’s degrees,” he said. “She has won the confidence of the faculty, staff and students with her steady, transparent and thoughtful decision-making, and clear dedication to our residential, faith-based, liberal arts core.”

Cottrell is well positioned to lead TLU and enhance its resources and reputation, Dorsey said.

“Her appointment will be received gratefully by her Texas and national colleagues, and she will take office with the full confidence of TLU faculty, staff, students, and alumni,” he said. “Debbie and I already have begun work on what I believe will be a seamless transition, and I am confident she will ‘hit the ground running’ in July.” 

Cottrell added that it has been her privilege to serve as the chief academic officer alongside the Board of Regents, Dorsey, strong leadership team and faculty and staff.

Cottrell said she looks forward to leading TLU in a positive direction.

“TLU has much to contribute to our community and region and is an important part of the higher education landscape in Texas and among faith-based institutions in our country,” she said. “I look forward to leading us in a way that honors our mission and allows us to fully realize our potential as we deliver on our promise to our students to provide them an excellent education with lifelong implications.”


Valerie Bustamante is a staff writer for the Seguin Gazette. You can e-mail her at

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