Campus News

UGA prof named ‘up and coming thinker’

J. Douglas Toma, associate professor in UGA’s Institute of Higher Education, is among 10 higher education professionals identified by the Chronicle of Higher Education as “up and coming thinkers who have already made a mark on debates about American higher education and who are poised to influence national policies.” The story appears in the July 15 issue of the publication under the title, “A Look at the New Generation of Higher Education Thinkers.”

Toma’s research on the obsession with status among American colleges and universities is the focus of the article, “J. Douglas Toma measures the cost of keeping up with the Joneses.” Toma suggests that athletics, and football in particular, are prominent among the defining measures that institutions need to distinguish themselves from each other. He also suggests that football is important as a means “to supply the academic side of the institution with the resources needed to hire star faculty members, recruit top students, and build . . . endowments.”

Toma, who has also served on the faculties of the University of Missouri-Kansas City and the University of Pennsylvania, writes extensively about the obsession with status in his book, Football U. (University of Michigan Press, 2003), where he argues “that colleges use football to try to establish themselves as national brands and to add distinctiveness to otherwise ordinary campuses.”

Toma is working on his next book, which expands his thesis on the obsession of status beyond sports to what the Chronicle article writer calls “lavish ­campus ­amenities.”