some of us are brave
Tressie McMillan Cottom.
Woman. Friend. Daughter. Scholar. Armchair activist. Hell-raiser. Intellectual Catfish.* Not particularly in that order.
I am also a PhD student in sociology at Emory University where I study education, inequality, and organizations. My research has surveyed for-profit students and the organizational mechanisms of the for-profit college sector. I take a decidedly not technical-functional approach to stratification in the rapidly changing higher education landscape that is unfolding around us. My questions are less who and what and more why and how. Why are so many black students enrolled in for-profit colleges? So many women? How do status competition and stratification processes intersect with labor and economic structural change to produce these patterns?
I was a 2010 OUCP Community Partnership Fellow at Emory University. As a Fellow I conducted program evaluations and community needs assessments for public middle school programming as a part of a multi-million dollar grant.
In 2011 I co-wrote a funded grant for the AERA Conference Grant award to organize an academic conference on the study of for-profit colleges. The conference was convened in Fall 2012 at Duke University in conjunction with The Network for Racial and Ethnic Inequality and the Sanford School of Public Policy. Scholars from the U.S., U.K., and India joined policy analysts and executives from four of the largest for-profit colleges in the U.S. to examine the current and emerging research in the area.
In 2012 I was the only graduate student selected as a Public Voices fellow by the Center for Faculty Development at Emory University. The two-year program promotes collaboration and public scholarship from women and minority scholars.
I am a proud member of the editorial collective at The Feminist Wire. I am a reviewer for Psychology of Popular Media Culture and I hold various positions in the ASA, AERA, and SWS.
I have published on the privitization of higher education with Sara Goldrick-Rab and have a forthcoming paper with Gaye Tuchman on the rationalization of higher education from Sage Publishing. I am lead editor of “For-Profit U: Profit, Privatization, and Inequality” with co-editor William Darity, Jr.”, forthcoming from AERA books. My article on gender and for-profit colleges is under review. My current project examines the sorting of low-status students as a function of the admissions processes of for-profit colleges.
My work broadly deals with orgs and -isms. As a result, I have spoken to a diverse set of issues for academic and non-academic audiences. Most often those talks center on educational institutions as organizations or media organizations. There’s really quite a bit of overlap between the two. Ask me about that sometime. I was invited to speak at the Applied Research Center’s annual conference on Race in 2012 on race and for-profit college enrollment. I will be talking about private media and the conflict between profit motives and using public social media tools at MIT this summer.
Grants written total $52,000 awarded. I have two papers out for peer review, 15 invited talks in three countries, and I occasionally teach workshops on public writing and social activism.
And I passed comps this January.
I’m also very fond of Dolly Parton, fancy coffee, juicing, brunch, 90s hip-hop, bacon, and the Delta blues.
Tressie McMillan Cottom
*Some random commenter on social media called me an “intellectual catfish” once. It was an allusion to a popular MTV program where online daters’ bait-and-switch are revealed. I think it was meant to say that I am faux intellectual, pulling the grand okie doke. I liked it! I’m not sure which is more of an honor: the high opinion of my Machiavellian ability to pull of a grand rouse or that someone thought me cool enough to liken me to a hip, young show. Either way, they lobbed it and I kept it.