Tressie McMillan Cottom

"Only in lower ed is the challenge singular, especially expensive, and perversely profitable."

Tressie McMillan Cottom’s research and writing focuses on race, class, gender, education, and technology in the new economy and has been supported by the Microsoft Research Network’s Social Media Collective, the American Educational Research Association, and the UC Davis Center for Poverty Research.

In 2017, Tressie published her book Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy in which she has analyzed large data sets, scrutinized financial filings, and interviewed students and staff. The book questions the fundamental narrative of American education policy. Author Carol Anderson calls Lower Ed,  “…brilliant. It is nuanced, carefully argued, and engagingly written.”

Tressie serves on dozens of academic and philanthropic boards and publishes widely on issues of inequality, work, higher education and technology. She worked in enrollment at two for-profit colleges, and after experiencing the kinds of choices students faced, she left the for-profit educational sector to go study it in graduate school. Now she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in race and digital sociology as well as researches structural inequality, schooling, and labor outcomes.

Tressie is a fan of many things but an uber fan of Dolly Parton, fancy coffee, brunch, nineties hip-hop, bacon, and the Delta blues. She lives in Richmond, Virginia.

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