Webster University Names Michael Cottam Director of Online Learning

May. 22, 2014

ST. LOUIS (MAY 22, 2014) - Michael E. Cottam, Ph.D., has been named associate vice president for academic affairs and director of the Online Learning Center at Webster University. In this position, Cottam will oversee the development and delivery of online courses and programs offered worldwide by Webster’s schools and colleges. Cottam, who is based in Denver, Colorado, currently serves as dean of instruction for Portmont College at Mount St. Mary’s. He will join Webster on July 1.

“Michael Cottam is an online education specialist who brings to Webster a wealth of experience and leadership in researching, building and implementing high-quality, innovative academic programs as well as contributing significantly to local and national initiatives in higher education,” said Webster President Elizabeth (Beth) J. Stroble.

Julian Schuster, Webster University provost, senior vice president and chief operating officer, noted, “Michael Cottam’s ability to bring diverse teams of professionals together to accomplish big goals will help Webster to continue to build its already strong reputation of quality online programs.  His experience in leading learning initiatives as faculty, instructional designer, department director and college dean, as well as his track record of quality, integrity, innovation and success will be a great benefit to the continued development of Webster’s online programs.”   

Created in 2012, Portmont College is an academic sub-unit of Mount St. Mary's College. At Portmont, Cottam was responsible for envisioning all aspects of the design of a new-model, high-quality, innovative online college to serve the needs of students with academic, social, emotional and financial barriers to college access and college success.

Prior to Portmont, from 2000 to 2012, Cottam served in several positions at Rio Salado Community College in Tempe, Arizona, including associate dean of instruction and director of instructional design and technology. He taught, developed curriculum, courses and programs for Rio Salada, helping it to grow into the country’s largest online community college. He also led grant projects, technology initiatives and collaborations with other colleges across the country.

Cottam received his a bachelor’s degree in Spanish, a master’s degree in Spanish Applied Linguistics, and a doctoral degree in Educational Technology, all from Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona.

“I am excited to join Webster, particularly so because it was an early adopter of online programs,” Cottam said. “I look forward to expanding Webster’s online offering and incorporating cutting-edge technology and innovative approaches in teaching and learning into the online curriculum.”

The high quality of Webster University’s online graduate education and business programs received national recognition in U.S. News & World Report’s 2013 list of “Best Online Programs.” Criteria used by U.S. News to determine the rankings included admissions selectivity, faculty credentials and training, peer reputation, student services and technology, and student engagement. Webster ranked highest among all higher education institutions in the bi-state St. Louis metropolitan area for both its online graduate education and online graduate business programs.

With its home campus in St. Louis, Webster University (www.webster.edu) is the only Tier 1, private, non-profit U.S.-based university providing a network of international residential campuses. Founded in 1915, Webster University’s campus network today includes metropolitan, military and corporate locations around the world, as well as traditional residential campuses in Asia, Europe, Africa and North America. The university is committed to delivering high-quality learning experiences that transform students for global citizenship and individual excellence.