Dean of UVA’s College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences Edward L. Ayers will step down from his position at UVA to take a job as the ninth president of the private University of Richmond this summer.
Ayers is also currently the Hugh P. Kelley Professor in the UVA history department. An eminent “New South” historian, his 1992 book The Promise of the New South: Life After Reconstruction was nominated for the American Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. He received the Carnegie Foundation National Professor of the Year in 2003; UVA awarded him the Thomas Jefferson Award this year.
Ayers had served as Dean of Arts & Sciences since 2001. During his tenure, he championed the South Lawn Project and has raised over $110 million for the College. His UVA salary is reportedly $300,000.
Ayers will take his post at Richmond on July 1, replacing President William E. Cooper. Richmond has been trying to up its national profile since 1998, when Cooper became the school’s president. But Cooper apparently never recovered from comments made at an October 2005 state of the university address, when he said, “The entering quality of our student body needs to be much higher if we are going to transform bright minds into great achievers instead of transforming mush into mush.” Richmond began seeking a new president in January.
UVA will begin a national and international search for a new Dean, but say they have not ruled out hiring someone from within the University. President Casteen said in an e-mail via University Relations: “We will need an established scholar with broad involvement in the whole range of disciplines contained within the College, with the capacity to manage a complex enterprise and to lead many different centers of excellence, with a solid record of commitment to diversity and equity, and with the capacity to raise a great deal of money in a relatively short time.”