San Antonio – St. Mary’s University’s Board of Trustees unanimously voted this morning to reappoint Charles L. Cotrell, Ph.D. as President.
“Dr. Cotrell’s commitment to St. Mary’s is evident in his tireless dedication to enhance the University’s long-established academic quality and oversee the building of new programs,” said Chairman of the Board Robert L. Elizondo (B.S. ’67). “Under his nine years of leadership, St. Mary’s has solidified its standing as one of the finest universities in Texas and the West. With this reappointment, Dr. Cotrell and the Board will continue to advance the University as a national and global beacon of higher education, and fulfill the goals outlined in Vision 2012, St. Mary’s strategic plan.”
“Part of Vision 2012 is the nurturing of a vibrant Catholic and Marianist culture at the University,” said Rev. Jim Fitz, S.M., Assistant Provincial for the Marianist U.S. Province and member of the St. Mary’s Board of Trustees. “We appreciate the efforts Dr. Cotrell has made and look forward to continued growth in this culture on campus.”
“I appreciate the Board’s confidence in my leadership,” said Cotrell. “St. Mary’s history of serving and educating the people of South Texas dates back 157 years; I have worked hard to maintain that commitment by having one of the best student graduation and retention rates in the region. I remain committed to fulfilling the goals of St. Mary’s strategic plan of keeping a quality education accessible and affordable to all as my enduring focus.”
The Catholic and Marianist mission of the University calls for its faculty and staff to foster the formation of people in faith and educate leaders for the common good through community service, integrated liberal arts and professional education, and academic excellence. In 2007 in consultation with board members, the Marianist community, alumni and the rest of the campus community, Cotrell embarked on the Vision 2012 Strategic Plan setting five goals – nurture a vibrant Catholic and Marianist culture; advance academic quality and innovation; extend boundaries of St. Mary’s into the community and around the world; assure viability and enhance facilities and technology. Although the University is only two years into the strategic plan period, much has been accomplished to date, including the following:
- The establishment of the executive position of vice president for Mission and Identity and the Catholic Intellectual Tradition Lecture Series
- Creation of new core curriculum that places renewed emphasis on a Catholic liberal arts education, while also being responsive to today’s students and society’s needs
- Consistent University awards and recognition for student civic engagement and community service, among them inclusion on the President of the United States’ Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll and, most recently, the 2009 Law School Commitment to Service Award from the Texas Access to Justice Commission
- Creation of new academic programs and initiatives – joint forensic science degrees, an evening law program, a one-year M.B.A. program, a student-managed business, and a state-of-the art trading room for the student-managed portfolio program
- Cooperative education exchange agreements with universities in Germany, Mexico, China and Taiwan, as well as a study abroad program in China for the School of Law
- Newly hired and highly qualified academic deans – Charles Cantú, J.D., School of Law; Tanuja Singh, Ph.D., Bill Greehey School of Business; and Winston Erevelles, Ph.D., School of Science, Engineering and Technology
- Creation of the St. Mary’s Neighborhood Revitalization Center and the SABÉR Research Institute (an economic think tank in partnership with the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce)
- Receipt of the University’s largest single gift of $25 million from alumnus Bill Greehey; and nearly $15 million in gifts since the 2007 implementation of St. Mary’s Vision 2012 Strategic Plan
- Growth of the University’s endowment nearly doubled to $154 million in May 2008 , before the downturn of the national economy, and is now rebounding
- Creation of many new scholarships for undergraduate, graduate and law students, including securing of funds for Access St. Mary’s which awarded one-third of this year’s incoming freshman class with full tuition scholarships
- Becoming San Antonio’s first institution to sign-on for the Department of Veteran’s Affairs Yellow Ribbon program to help provide tuition-free educations to qualifying veterans
- Creation of the St. Mary’s School of Law Foundation, the mission of which is raising funds for student scholarships
- Implementation of an ongoing comprehensive facilities master plan which include completion of the Founders Hall for freshman residents, a new Gateway to St. Mary’s beautification project, the Barrett Memorial Bell Tower, the Alumni Athletics & Convocation Center (which includes the multipurpose, state-of-the-art 3,800-seat Bill Greehey Arena), and the AT&T Center for Information Technology
- Implementation of the new enterprise software system, enhancing instructional technology, making the campus ‘wired’ and the launching of the University’s mobile website
- Launch of the Extending the Traditions of Excellence Campaign to raise funds for scholarship and the outdoor sports complex (with more than 75 percent of the campaign’s $23 million goal raised to date)
During Cotrell’s tenure, St. Mary’s has also reached many quality indicators and achieved many academic accolades. Most notably, St. Mary’s University has been consistently ranked in the top tier in the West Region for quality and best value by U.S. News & World Report. With St. Mary’s high graduation and retention rates and unique scholarship opportunities, the University was ranked fourth in both the 2009 and 2010 “America’s Best Colleges” editions.
Cotrell’s strong connection to St. Mary’s goes back to his student days when he enrolled to study political science, the discipline in which he received both a bachelor’s and master’s degree (in 1962 and 1964, respectively). He returned to his beloved alma mater in 1966 as an assistant professor, beginning a 43-year career as a dedicated faculty member and active, integral member of the Marianist lay community. In administrative leadership roles, Cotrell served first as department chairman and director of graduate programs, then as assistant to the president for Planning and Institutional Research, dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, and vice president for Academic Affairs for 13 years. Throughout Cotrell’s leadership roles he has remained connected to the students by continuing to teach political science courses, even as president. Cotrell was appointed St. Mary’s twelfth-and first lay-president on April 14, 2000. Cotrell was reappointed in October 2006 for a second term. This most recent reappointment will take him through the year 2012.