Cottrell bound for Vietnam on third Fulbright


Stephen Cottrell

Mississippi State University's assistant director for the International Institute and ambassador for the Fulbright International Exchange Program is receiving his third Fulbright scholarship.

In September, the prestigious award will enable Stephen Cottrell to travel to Nha Trang, Vietnam, for a nine-month appointment to teach American regional studies and cultural awareness measurements.

After sponsored visits to Thailand in 2007 and Japan in 2009, Cottrell was named in 2012 as a Fulbright Scholars Alumni Ambassador.

As an ambassador, he represents the J. William Fulbright International Exchange Program at campus workshops and academic conferences across the United States. Increasing the diversity of participants, as well as the range of higher educational institutions represented, are among key priorities of he and other ambassadors.

MSU has been recognized as one of the nation's top producers of Fulbright Scholars, ranking with Harvard, Columbia and Cornell universities, among others.

"Since the Fulbright, by its very nature, contributes to the national and international economic sustainability, ecosystem sustainability, and socioeconomic well-being of both sender and receiver countries and respective educational institutions, it is a powerful fit for MSU," Cottrell said.

The MSU doctoral graduate in educational leadership said his goal while in Southeastern Vietnam will be "to aid in increasing the number of highly qualified undergraduates from Vietnam, while building a foundation for Mississippi State faculty to consider competing for a Fulbright in that nation."

Earlier, 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.

Before beginning his higher education career, Cottrell was a refugee resettlement coordinator for a decade with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. He worked in Southeast Asian camps for Vietnamese, Khmer, Hmong and Lao refugees.

Returning to the U.S., he coordinated resettlement programs along the Northern Gulf Coast for Vietnamese fishermen, as well as Cambodian Khmer Rouge survivors.

A Marine in South Vietnam during the war, he also has worked as a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand and teacher in Iran. His personal experiences include taking a "walkabout" from the Afghanistan border to England.

Cottrell holds three other degrees, including a bachelor's from the University of South Alabama, a master's from MSU in cultural geography and a second master's in teaching English as a foreign language (applied linguistics) from the University of Northern Iowa. 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 a 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.

Also as an ambassador, he regularly encourage colleagues to apply for Fulbright scholarships, and serves as an information resource for both MSU faculty and those at other institutions of higher learning.

A number of MSU faculty members recently have served in Armenia, Romania, Kosovo, and the Republic of Mauritius, among other locales.

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between people of the United States and people of other countries. For more information, visit or contact Cottrell at 662-325-8460.

Allison Matthews | University Relations

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