Understanding catalyst function to improve activity for the oxygen evolution reaction (OER) is key to increasing the overall efficiency of electrochemical water splitting, a promising method for sustainable and clean production of hydrogen. Using a straightforward and scalable solgel synthesis, we explore the effects of metal composition in CoxTi1xOy on electrochemical activity, atomic structure, and electronic state. Physical and electronic characterization reveal that increased amounts of Ti stabilize the 2+ oxidation state of the Co precursor and lead to formation of less active CoO-like catalysts. Conversely, films with Co:Ti ratios of 1:1 or greater result in catalysts with high activity, correlating with greater Co 3+ character, as measured by ex situ XAS for samples as-prepared and after exposure to OER conditions. Additionally, decreasing the Ti content systematically shifts the Co redox potential from approximately 1.5 V vs. RHE with a 1:3 Co:Ti ratio to 1.0 V vs. RHE with no Ti, further evidence that Ti stabilizes Co in a lower oxidation state. Controlling the oxidation state of metals in metal-oxide OER catalysts can have a profound effect on catalytic activity.