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Tressie McMillan Cottom receives 2023 Gittler Prize

The university recently selected the recipient for the 2023 Joseph B. and Toby Gittler Prize, according to an email sent to the Brandeis community by President Ron Liebowitz. The Gittler Prize recognizes outstanding and lasting contributions to racial, ethnic and/or religious issues, according to the prize’s webpage.

McMillan Cottom is a current professor with the Center for Information, Technology and Public Life at UNC-Chapel Hill, as well as a columnist for the New York Times. McMillan Cottom was nominated by Brandeis sociology professor Sarah Mayorga, who cites McMillan Cottom’s book, “Thick,” as a key reason for the nomination, according to a BrandeisNOW article. Professor Mayorga uses “Thick” as the core text for her “SOC 1a: Introduction to Sociology” course at Brandeis. As well as being a staple in Professor Mayorga’s Introduction to Sociology course, “Thick” was a National Book Award Finalist in 2019 for its re-imagination of the modern essay form, according to the BrandeisNOW article. 

McMillian Cottom’s website details numerous past publications and projects, such as her 2017 book “Lower Ed.” McMillan Cottom has also held the position of New York Times opinion writer since the beginning of 2022. McMillan Cottom has also won several awards in the past few years, such as the 2017 Sociologists for Women in Society Feminist Activism Award, the 2019 Adweek Podcast Award for Podcast Hosts of the Year and the 2020 American Sociological Association Public Understanding of Sociology Award. 

Many of her written pieces deal with race, power and inequities within school systems and the job market. She has had many opportunities to discuss these issues, starring on The Daily Show and Fresh Air, as well as having her work published in The Atlantic and The Washington Post. McMillan Cottom has also participated in digital conventions dissecting the intersection between education and social mobility.

McMillan Cottom is set to be in residence at Brandeis University Oct. 25 to Oct. 27, 2023, according to the BrandeisNOW article. She will engage in activities and meetings, and have the opportunity to connect with students on campus. Her residency also includes a formal award ceremony for the Gittler Prize, as well as a keynote speech on Oct. 26, 2023.



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