On a sunny April 11, historian Edward L. Ayers was inaugurated as the ninth president of the University of Richmond in Virginia. A historian of the American South, Ayers has written such works as The Promise of the New South: Life After Reconstruction and What Caused the Civil War?: Reflections on the South and Southern History.
The day before, a roundtable on “New Perspectives on the American Civil War” was held on campus, featuring Ayers, Harvard University president and history professor Drew Gilpin Faust, and University of Virginia professor Gary W. Gallagher.
At the inauguration, representatives from the alumni, staff, students and faculty spoke, and all stressed Ayers enthusiasm and inclusiveness. One speaker mentioned that Ayers had helped students unpack when they arrived on campus. Mayor of Richmond Douglas Wilder and Thomas R. Morris, Virginia’s Secretary of Education also spoke. Drew Gilpin Faust introduced Ayers and he received the University of Richmond’s mace and chain of Office. Ayers, in his inaugural address, briefly reviewed the history of the college and discussed the goals in the new strategic plan including diversity and affordability, stating, “Now we need to open the doors of opportunity even wider.” He also mentioned the importance of the campus environmentally conscious policies (see this Richmond Times-Dispatch article). The event was followed by a picnic with a bluegrass band, and a dance with the theme of “Fifty Years of Rock, Jazz, Soul, and Rhythm & Blues.”