Edward L. Ayers

Edward L. Ayers, Tucker-Boatwright Professor of the Humanities at the University of Richmond, is an American historian, professor, and administrator, and was the ninth president of the University of Richmond, serving from 2007 to 2015. Ayers received his Bachelor of Arts 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. 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. In 2003, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching named Ayers National Professor of the Year. In July 2013, he was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President Obama at a White House ceremony. He served as president of the Organization of American Historians during the 2017–2018 term and is currently serving as a member of their executive board. In 2017 he published The Thin Light of Freedom: The Civil War and Emancipation in the Heart of America, which won both the Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize and the Avery O. Craven Award.

His current commitments in the digital history world include BackStory (a podcast that brings historical perspective to the events happening around us today) and helping with the execution of Bunkhistory.org (an online engine that searches through the internet to find articles and other digital content that engages the past and posts it on their website). Ayers also teaches courses at the University of Richmond and serves as the chairman of the Board of the American Civil War Museum.