Philip Cotton grew up in South London before attending the University in Scotland. He went to Saint Andrews University before studying medicine in Glasgow. He began as a junior doctor in Glasgow, and continued to do his special training, master’s, and doctorate there–“So quite a boring person really,” he claimed.
As a medical student, he set up a fair and ethical trading NGO in mozambique. When the principal of his university received a request for a clinical academic who wouldn’t mind going to Africa, knowing that Cotton had been to Africa quite a lot, he got involved.
Cotton spent six months in Rwanda during his leave of absence from Glasgow, but eventually left Glasgow University altogether to teach medicine in Rwanda. He became the principal of the college of medicine and was involved heavily in the merging of the Universities before being selected as the first Vice Chancellor of the new merged UR.
He calls himself “The luckiest VC out of the 27,000 VCs in the world because of the vision this government has for its country through its young people.” VC Cotton was honored by the Queen of England with an Order of the British Empire Award in 2017 for his work in Rwandan higher education. In 2018, he was awarded the ASME Gold Medal.