He will join the pension fund Jan. 17 and will replace Interim CIO Robert Devine, who has held the position since December 2021 after the board voted the previous month for the retirement of prior CIO James H. Grossman Jr.
Mr. Grossman in December 2021 moved to a newly created position of senior investment adviser and retired May 1.
Mr. Cotton in December completed a doctoral program on leadership and learning in organizations through Vanderbilt University's Peabody College. Before that, he was a senior managing director for the United Auto Workers Retiree Medical Benefits Trust.
At that November 2021 meeting, the board had also voted on the retirement of Executive Director Glen R. Grell. He left the pension fund Feb. 28 and has since been replaced by Terrill J. Sanchez.
The board's actions more than a year ago followed six members in June 2021 calling for Messrs. Grossman and Grell's removal from their respective roles. The resolution calling for a vote for new leadership was ultimately withdrawn with no reason given.
Those calls emerged after PennPSERS came under federal investigation after the board had discovered an error in its reported investment figures. According to a report from law firm Womble Bond Dickinson commissioned by the board, general investment consultant Aon Investments USA took responsibility for the error, which involved incorrect public markets investment returns in April 2015 that was only discovered by PennPSERS staff in 2020 following Aon's release of nine-year investment return data.
Mr. Devine, the interim CIO, will take on the temporary title of deputy CIO, effective Jan. 17, to assist Mr. Cotton to ensure a successful transition, spokeswoman Evelyn M. Williams said in an email. He will also retain his prior title of fixed-income managing director.