Department News


Civil War Specialist to Speak as Carls-Schwerdfeger
History Lecturer on October 9

Edward AyersDr. Edward L. Ayers, President and Professor of History at the University of Richmond, will serve as Union University’s Eleventh Annual Carls-Schwerdfeger History Lecturer on Tuesday, October 9, 2007. He will speak at 7:15 p.m. in the G. M. Savage Memorial Chapel on “In the Wake of the Civil War: Building New Lives After Appomattox.” The lecture is free and open to the public. Dr. Ayers will also present a daytime lecture for the university community on “Seeing History: New Strategies for Finding the Patterns of the Past.”

Dr. Ayers is a leading authority on the Civil War and Southern history. He has written numerous books and articles on these subjects, and he has won several prestigious prizes for his scholarly work. In 2004, he won the Bancroft Prize from Columbia University and the American Historical Association’s Albert J. Beveridge Award for his book In the Presence of Mine Enemies: War in the Heart of America, 1859-1863 (2003). He received the Frank L. and Harriet C. Owsley Award from the Southern Historical Association in 1993 and the James Rawley Prize of the Organization of American Historians in1992 for his work The Promise of the New South: Life After Reconstruction (1992). For that same book, he was honored with the 1992 Phi Beta Kappa Prize for the best book by a University of Virginia faculty member, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. Dr. Ayers’ book Vengeance and Justice: Crime and Punishment in the Nineteenth-Century American South (1984) earned him a J. Willard Hurst Award for Best Book in American Legal History for 1984-1985 from the Law and Society Association.

Other books that Dr. Ayers has authored, co-authored, or co-edited include: The Crucible of the Civil War: Virginia from Secession to Commonwealth [editor, with Gary Gallagher and Andrew Torgot] (2006); What Caused the Civil War? Reflections on the South and Southern History [author] (2005); The Valley of the Shadow: Two Communities in the American Civil War – The Eve of War [co-author, with Anne S. Rubin] (2000); American Passages: A History of the United States [co-author] (2000, 2003, 2006); The Oxford Book of the American South: Testimony, Memory, and Fiction [editor, with Bradley Mittendorf] (1997); All Over the Map: Rethinking American Regions [co-editor and co-author] (1996); and, The Edge of the South: Life in Nineteenth-Century Virginia [co-edited, with John C. Willis] (1991).

Beyond his success as a scholar, Dr. Edwards has excelled as a teacher and an academic leader. The list of recognitions for his excellent classroom work includes: the U.S. Professor of the Year for Research and Doctoral Universities in 2003 from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and Council for Support and Advancement of Education; the American Historical Association’s James Harvey Robinson Prize for Outstanding Aid to Teaching History in 2002; the Arthur Stoker Award for Outstanding Teaching from the ODK Honor Society at the University of Virginia in 2002; the Virginia Social Science Educator of the Year by the Virginia Social Studies Association in 2002; the Phi Eta Sigma (Freshman Honor Society) Teacher of the Year Award in 1993; the Outstanding Faculty Award from the State Council of Higher Education in Virginia in 1991; the Distinguished Faculty Award from the IMP Society in 1990; and, the Distinguished Young Teacher Award from the University of Virginia Alumni Board of Trustees in 1986. Dr. Ayers has also won several awards for his service to the university community, including the University of Virginia’s highest honor - the Thomas Jefferson Award - which he received in the fall of 2006. As reflections of his leadership abilities, Dr. Ayers has served on the executive boards of the National Council for History Education and the Council for Library and Information Resources, and by appointment of the President of the United States on the National Council for the Humanities.

A pioneer in work with digital media, Dr. Ayers co-founded the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities in 1991, and created the Virginia Center for Digital History in 1998, serving as its first Executive Director (1998-2001). Much of his work in digital media has focused on a project called “The Valley of the Shadow: Two Communities in the American Civil War.” More than 4 million visitors have looked at the project on the World Wide Web. In 2001, the Valley Project won the first annual E-Lincoln Prize of $40,000 from the Gilder-Lehman Institute and Gettysburg College for the best digital work on the Civil War era. Students at all levels all across the country use the Valley Project, which makes considerable primary source material available for the pursuit of research on historical topics.

Dr. Ayers graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville in 1974, and received a Ph.D. from Yale University in American Studies in 1980. He joined the faculty of the University of Virginia in the fall of 1980. In 1993, he was named the Hugh P. Kelly Professor of History at UVA, and in 2001 he became the Buckner W. Clay Dean of the College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Ayers began his responsibilities as President and Professor of History at the University of Richmond on July 1, 2007.


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