April Tuesdays Together Higher Education National Speaker Series Event

The North Carolina Central University Higher Education Administration Program and the School of Education invite you to the April 2023 Tuesdays Together National Speaker Series conversation with Dr. Tressie McMillan Cottom, '09, NCCU alumna, New York Times columnist, 2020 MacArthur Genius Fellow, and UNC-Chapel Hill professor. The conversation is scheduled on Tuesday, April 18, 2023, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the North Carolina Central University School of Education Room 1071, 700 Cecil St., Durham, NC 27702.

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Dr. Tressie McMillan Cottom is a trenchant cultural critic, celebrated sociologist, and award-winning writer. She is known for rearranging your brain in the span of a carefully-turned phrase. Her breadth is phenomenal – it moves from the racial hierarchy of beauty standards and the class codes of dressing for work to the predation of for-profit colleges and the stain of racial capitalism on our plural democracy – all while reimagining the essay form for the 21st-century as she goes.

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Dr. Tressie McMillan Cottom's first book, Lower Ed, captures the zeitgeist on how profit, and debt, moved from the margins of higher education to bankrupt the very heart of American meritocracy. Influential change-makers like Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and activists like The Debt Strike Collective cite her book as important for changing the conversation about higher education. Her sharp insights do not let anyone off the hook – she argues that bad federal policy, state disinvestment, amoral narratives about meritocracy, and prestige-driven cultures of traditional higher education all share responsibility for Lower Ed.

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Her far-ranging intellectual interests include books, articles, magazine profiles, and opinion editorials, but it is her essays that routinely shape the discourse. Her version of the essay – or Tressays, as her devout fans refer to them – is part revolutionary pamphlet, part poetic chapbook, part sociological analysis, and part call-to-arms. Her 2019 collection of essays, Thick, was a National Book Award finalist that reimagines the modern essay form. Tressays are powerful storytelling that make problems for power. Careful and poetic, Tressie explores the everyday culture of big ideas like racism, sexism, inequality, and oppression by giving us the language to live better lives.

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Dr. McMillan Cottom holds a B.A. (2009) in English and Political Science from North Carolina Central University and a Ph.D. (2015) in Sociology from Emory University. She was affiliated with the Department of Sociology at Virginia Commonwealth University from 2015 to 2020 and has been a faculty affiliate of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University since 2015. McMillan Cottom's additional publications include the edited volumes Digital Sociologies (2016) and For-Profit Universities: The Shifting Landscape of Marketized Higher Education (2017), and she has been a contributor to Slate, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, and Inside Higher Ed.

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In July 2020, she joined the faculty of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill as an associate professor in the School of Library and Information Science and senior research faculty at the Center for Information, Technology, and Public Life. She is a 2020 MacArthur Foundation Fellow and New York Times contributing opinion writer.

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The conversation will be moderated by Dr. Tryan L. McMickens, associate professor of Higher Education and program coordinator of the Higher Education Administration Program at North Carolina Central University, on a wide range of topics including race, culture, and higher education leadership.

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