Stephen Cottrell, assistant director of Mississippi State University’s International Institute, is a 2012 selection for the prestigious Fulbright Scholars Alumni Ambassador program. He will be serving in the new leadership program administered by the Institute of International Education in Washington, D.C.
Cottrell received a senior Fulbright Specialist award to Thailand in 2007, followed by a similar award to Japan in 2009. His time at Thailand’s Mae Jo University focused on community land sustainability via higher education organizational reframing to accommodate community needs. During his visit to Japan’s University of Nagasaki-Siebold, he lectured and participated in programs focused on the geography of Cambodia and its influence on current realities of that nation.
Immediately prior to his higher education career, Cottrell was a refugee resettlement coordinator for a 10-year period with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. He worked in Southeast Asian camps with Vietnamese, Khmer, Hmong and Lao refugees. Returning to the U.S., Cottrell coordinated resettlement programs along the northern Gulf Coast for Vietnamese fishermen, as well as Cambodian Khmer Rouge survivors.
Cottrell previously served as a Marine in South Vietnam, Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand and teacher in Iran. He also undertook a personal “walkabout” from the Afghanistan border to England.
Cottrell holds four degrees. He earned a bachelor’s from the University of South Alabama and a master’s in cultural geography from MSU. He completed a second master’s in teaching English as a foreign language from the University of Northern Iowa. His doctorate from MSU is in higher education leadership. His research interests focus on cultural influences on higher education’s organizational structure, strategy and goals.
In his current MSU position, Cottrell works with foreign universities, agencies and embassies in international development. He serves as the senior university official on matters concerning international student and scholar immigration issues. He also teaches graduate and undergraduate cultural geography courses on Asia, Latin America, the American South, and urbanization.