PhD (Sociology), Emory University
BA (English and Political Science), North Carolina Central University
Dr. Tressie McMillan Cottom is an award-winning author, professor, and sociologist, whose work has earned national and international recognition for the urgency and depth of its incisive critical analysis of technology, higher education, class, race, and gender. Her most recent accolades include a 2020 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship(link is external)
, informally known as the “genius grant.”
She is an associate professor at the UNC School of Information and Library Science (SILS)
, a senior faculty researcher with the Center for Information, Technology, and Public Life (CITAP)(link is external)
at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a faculty affiliate at Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society(link is external)
. Before joining the faculty at Carolina, she was an associate professor at Virginia Commonwealth University.
McMillan Cottom earned her doctorate from Emory University’s Laney Graduate School in sociology in 2015. Her dissertation research formed the foundation for her first book Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy
(The New Press 2016). With hundreds of thousands of readers amassed over years of writing and publishing, McMillan Cottom’s columns have appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Times, The Washington Post
, and Dissent Magazine
. In 2020, she launched her own online newsletter, essaying(link is external)
As a researcher and public intellectual, she has appeared on Amanpour & Co., MSNBC, The Daily Show, and National Public Radio, and she testified before U.S. Senate Subcommittees on student loan debt. She is also an influential voice on Twitter and co-host of Hear to Slay(link is external)
, a Black feminist podcast with writer Roxane Gay.
McMillan Cottom’s most recent book, THICK: And Other Essays(link is external)
(The New Press 2019), is a critically acclaimed Amazon best-seller that situates Black women’s intellectual tradition at its center. THICK
won the Brooklyn Public Library’s 2019 Literary Prize and was shortlisted for the 2019 National Book Award in nonfiction.