Edward L. Ayers

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Edward Lynn Ayers
President of the University of Richmond
Term July 1, 2007 –
Predecessor William E. Cooper
Born (1953-01-22) January 22, 1953 (age 61)
Alma mater University of Tennessee (B.A., 1973)
Yale University (M.A., 1977; Ph.D., 1980)
Profession Educator and historian

Edward Lynn Ayers (born January 22, 1953) is an American historian, professor, administrator, and ninth president of the University of Richmond. In July 2013, he was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President Obama at a White House ceremony.[1]

Ayers is the author of four and editor of seven books on the history of nineteenth-century America. His book, In the Presence of Mine Enemies, Civil War in the Heart of America, won the Bancroft Prize for distinguished writing in American history[2] and the Beveridge Prize for the best book in English on the history of the Americas since 1492.[3] The Promise of the New South: Life After Reconstruction was a finalist for both the National Book Award[4] and the Pulitzer Prize.[5]

Ayers received a Bachelor of Arts degree in American studies from the University of Tennessee in 1974. He then earned both a Master of Arts and a doctorate in American studies from Yale University.[6] During his presidency he developed of The Richmond Promise, a five-year strategic plan to guide University priorities. In addition to teaching a first-year seminar,[7] Ayers serves as a senior research fellow with the University’s Digital Scholarship Lab, which creates digital tools to reveal the patterns of American history.

Prior to his appointment as President of the University of Richmond, he had been on the faculty of the University of Virginia since 1980, most recently as the Hugh P. Kelly Professor of History and the Buckner W. Clay Dean of the College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.[8] In 2003, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching named Ayers National Professor of the Year.[9] President Ayers is amongst the best-loved leaders of the University of Richmond by students; in 2008 he hosted his own inaugural party which featured a jump from the DJ table to the floor during U2's bad (Wide Awake in America version).

Public History[edit]

Ayers’ commitment to public history spans his career. In recent years, he has chaired the National Endowment for the Humanities program that explored the preliminary emancipation proclamation.[10] He also chaired the first Signature Conference of the Virginia Sesquicentennial Commemoration of the American Civil War Commission,[11] and currently chairs the Steering Committee of The Future of Richmond’s Past which sponsors Civil War and Emancipation Day and inclusive conversations to advance a better understanding of Richmond’s shared history.[12] Ayers served as Senior Scholar for Making Sense of the American Civil War program sponsored nationally by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Library Association’s Public Program Office.[13]

Ayers is also one of three co-hosts of the nationally syndicated public radio program "BackStory with The American History Guys," broadcast on 36 stations around the country each week and has been downloaded more than 2.7 million times through podcasts.[14] The program, which takes a topic from current headlines and examines it in historical context, began in 2008 and is supported in part by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Humanities.[15]

Digital History[edit]

Ayers has long been an advocate of digital history,[16] having helped found both the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities and the Virginia Center for Digital History, having served as the latter's director until 2001.[8] Ayers also oversaw the Valley of the Shadow project, which provides users with letters, diaries, and newspaper accounts of life in two communities, one Southern and one Northern, during the Civil War.[17] He also serves on the editorial board of the Papers of Abraham Lincoln.[18]

His work with the Digital Scholarship Lab at the University of Richmond focuses on showing trends and patterns in American history. Projects include Voting America, Visualizing Emancipation, and Virginia’s Secession Convention. The lab is currently developing a digital atlas of American history through a grant received from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.[19]

Academic Service[edit]

  • American Council for Education, executive committee and co-chair of accreditation committee, 2008–present
  • National Humanities Center, board member, 2007–11
  • National Council for the Humanities, 2000–04, appointed by the president of the United States to advise the National Endowment for the Humanities

Books[edit]

Honors[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Edward L. Ayers". Retrieved 3 September 2013. 
  2. ^ a b "Columbia Announces 2004 Bancroft Prize Winners: Ayers, Hahn, Marsden". columbia.edu. Retrieved 3 September 2013. 
  3. ^ "Albert J. Beveridge Award". American Historical Association. Retrieved 3 September 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "National Book Awards - 1992". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 3 September 2013. 
  5. ^ a b "History". The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved 3 September 2013. 
  6. ^ Rhodes, Karl. "Dr. Edward L. Ayers will take office July 1, 2007, as the University’s ninth president". University of Richmond. Retrieved 3 September 2013. 
  7. ^ Allred, Steve. "Fearlessly Facing the Freshman Seminar". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved 3 September 2013. 
  8. ^ a b University of Richmond President's Office: About Dr. Ayers
  9. ^ "U.Va.'s Edward L. Ayers Receives the Nation's Top Teaching Award". University of Virginia. Retrieved 3 September 2013. 
  10. ^ "NEH Emancipation Resource Portal". National Endownment for the Humanities. Retrieved 3 September 2013. 
  11. ^ "VIRGINIA SESQUICENTENNIAL OF THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR COMMISSION 2008 ANNUAL REPORT". Retrieved 3 September 2013. 
  12. ^ "Partners". Retrieved 3 September 2013. 
  13. ^ "Information for Participating Libraries". American Library Association. Retrieved 3 September 2013. 
  14. ^ "Backstory". Retrieved 3 September 2013. 
  15. ^ "About". Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. Retrieved 3 September 2013. 
  16. ^ Ayers, Edward L. "The Pasts and Futures of Digital History"
  17. ^ "The Story Behind the Valley Project". University of Virginia. Retrieved 3 September 2013. 
  18. ^ "Meet Our Editorial Board". Lincoln Editor: The Quarterly Newsletter of the Papers of Abraham Lincoln, October–December 2002, p. 3. 
  19. ^ "Andrew Mellon Foundation awards three-year, $750,000 grant to DSL to create digital atlas of U.S. history". University of Richmond. Retrieved 3 September 2013. 
  20. ^ National Council on the Humanities: Seven New Members Named
  21. ^ 2003 Professor of the Year National Winner: Edward Ayers
  22. ^ Arts and Sciences Academy chooses three from U.Va.
Academic offices
Preceded by
William E. Cooper
President of the University of Richmond
2007–present
Incumbent