NCCU Alumna Tressie McMillian Cottom '09 Honored with Prestigious MacArthur Foundation 'Genius Grant'

Posted October 06, 2020, 6:50PM
Tressie McMillian Cottom, Ph.D., '09

Tressie McMillian Cottom, Ph.D., ’09 was announced today, Oct. 6, 2020, as one of 21 MacArthur Foundation ‘Genius Fellows.’ The MacArthur Fellows Program is noted as “intended to encourage people of outstanding talent to pursue their own creative, intellectual, and professional inclinations.” It includes a $625,000 award that is provided over five years.

She serves in the School of Library and Information Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A noted sociologist, author and researcher who studies race and gender, McMillian Cottom is regularly featured as a guest on national media outlets.

McMillan Cottom was also recently honored for her efforts in sociology by the American Sociological Association with its 2020 Public Understanding of Sociology Award. She was also a NCCU Forty Under Forty awardee in Sept. 2016.

She has authored several scholarly articles, papers, literary works and books. Most recently, she released the award-wining book “Thick: And Other Essays.” This work is a collection of essays on beauty, media, money and other topics.

NCCU's Department of Language and Literature regard her as an esteemed alumna.  

“Tressie McMillan Cottom was an excellent student at NCCU, her work is an example of Eagle Excellence,” said Kathryn Wymer, Ph.D., NCCU professor of English. “My current students connect deeply with her ideas and find inspiration for their goals after witnessing her success with nationally respected publications, television appearances and prestigious awards.”

McMillian Cottom earned a bachelor’s degree in English and political science from North Carolina Central University in 2009. She has a doctorate in sociology from Emory University.

Read more about her MacArthur Foundation award: NCCU Forty Under Forty awardee in 2016, NCCU featured McMillian Cottom in an article here in April 2020.

Social justice advocate The Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II ’85 was named a ‘Genius Fellow’ two years ago and was part of the program's class of 2018.

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