Edward L. Ayers

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For the antiquarian and 19th century collector of Americanist historical literature, see Edward E. Ayer.
Edward Lynn Ayers
Edward Ayers 9285030.jpg
at 2016 Fall for the Book
President of the
University of Richmond
In office
July 1, 2007 – July 1, 2015
Preceded by William E. Cooper
Succeeded by Ronald Crutcher
Personal details
Born (1953-01-22) January 22, 1953 (age 64)
Alma mater University of Tennessee (B.A., 1973)
Yale University (M.A., 1977; Ph.D., 1980)
Profession Educator and historian

Edward Lynn "Ed" Ayers[1] (born January 22, 1953) is an American historian, professor, administrator, and ninth president of the University of Richmond, serving from 2007 to 2015. In July 2013, he was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President Obama at a White House ceremony.[2]

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[3] and the Beveridge Prize for the best book in English on the history of the Americas since 1492.[4] The Promise of the New South: Life After Reconstruction was a finalist for both the National Book Award[5] and the Pulitzer Prize.[6]

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.[7] 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,[8] 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.[9] In 2003, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching named Ayers National Professor of the Year.[10]

Public history[edit]

Recently, he has chaired the National Endowment for the Humanities program that explored the preliminary emancipation proclamation.[11] He also chaired the first Signature Conference of the Virginia Sesquicentennial Commemoration of the American Civil War Commission,[12] 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.[13] 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.[14]

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.[15] 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.[16]

Digital history[edit]

Ayers is an advocate of digital history,[17] 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.[9] 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.[18] He also serves on the editorial board of the Papers of Abraham Lincoln.[19]

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.[20]

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




  1. ^ In his podcast, Backstory, Ayers introduces himself as "Ed Ayers."
  2. ^ a b "Edward L. Ayers". Retrieved 3 September 2013. 
  3. ^ a b "Columbia Announces 2004 Bancroft Prize Winners: Ayers, Hahn, Marsden". columbia.edu. Retrieved 3 September 2013. 
  4. ^ "Albert J. Beveridge Award". American Historical Association. Retrieved 3 September 2013. 
  5. ^ a b "National Book Awards - 1992". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 3 September 2013. 
  6. ^ a b "History". The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved 3 September 2013. 
  7. ^ 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. 
  8. ^ Allred, Steve. "Fearlessly Facing the Freshman Seminar". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved 3 September 2013. 
  9. ^ a b University of Richmond President's Office: About Dr. Ayers
  10. ^ "U.Va.'s Edward L. Ayers Receives the Nation's Top Teaching Award". University of Virginia. Retrieved 3 September 2013. 
  11. ^ "NEH Emancipation Resource Portal". National Endownment for the Humanities. Archived from the original on February 17, 2013. Retrieved 3 September 2013. 
  13. ^ "Partners". Retrieved 3 September 2013. 
  14. ^ "Information for Participating Libraries". American Library Association. Retrieved 3 September 2013. 
  15. ^ "Backstory". Retrieved 3 September 2013. 
  16. ^ "About". Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. Retrieved 3 September 2013. 
  17. ^ Ayers, Edward L. "The Pasts and Futures of Digital History"
  18. ^ "The Story Behind the Valley Project". University of Virginia. Retrieved 3 September 2013. 
  19. ^ "Meet Our Editorial Board" (PDF). Lincoln Editor: The Quarterly Newsletter of the Papers of Abraham Lincoln, October–December 2002, p. 3. 
  20. ^ "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. 
  21. ^ National Council on the Humanities: Seven New Members Named
  22. ^ 2003 Professor of the Year National Winner: Edward Ayers
  23. ^ Arts and Sciences Academy chooses three from U.Va.

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
William E. Cooper
President of the University of Richmond
Succeeded by
Ronald Crutcher