by Tom Cogill
13, 2003 -- Edward L. Ayers, dean of the College
and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences at the University
of Virginia, has been admired for his teaching, scholarship and
public service for so long that it should come as no surprise that
he was named today as the 2003 national Professor of the Year at
doctoral and research universities. The annual award for dedication
to undergraduate education is given by the Carnegie Foundation for
the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and
Support of Education (CASE).
of the country’s foremost Southern history scholars, Ayers
has continued his teaching and advising of undergraduate and graduate
students and outreach in history-education nationwide while serving
as the top administrator of U.Va.’s liberal arts core. He
and honorees in three non-doctoral college categories were selected
from among 400 distinguished professors nominated around the country.
(The Outstanding Master's College Professor of the Year, Patty Hale,
professor of nursing at Lynchburg College, received her master's
degree in community health nursing and a family nurse practitioner
post-master's certificate from U.Va. and was an assistant professor
nursing here from 1986 to 1997.)
an educator, mentor and advisor, Professor Ayers has had a lasting
impact on both the University of Virginia and on his discipline,”
said Vance T. Peterson, president of CASE. “Students seek
him out for his wise counsel and guidance because of the extraordinary
commitment he brings to everything he does.”
addition to being a legendary teacher and award-winning author,
Ayers has been a national advocate for exploring the potential of
computer technology to enhance scholarship and teaching. He previously
received the Outstanding Faculty Award from the State Council of
Higher Education for Virginia and currently serves as a presidential
appointee to the National Council for the Humanities and on the
executive board of the National Council for History Education.
infectious passion for learning invigorates every encounter with
students, whether in a class of 400, a seminar of 10, or an individual
conference,” said U.Va. vice president and provost Gene D.
Block, who nominated Ayers for the award.
Among the first wave of scholars to tap the power of emerging technologies
for learning, Ayers created and directs an authoritative Internet
archive, “Valley of the Shadow: Two Communities in the American
Civil War,” that has won numerous major awards for its contributions
to education. It is used in classrooms at all levels throughout
the country and makes available thousands of original sources for
students and scholars to conduct their own research and draw their
own conclusions about history.
finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award for
his 1992 book, “The Promise of the New South,” he has
also recently published a groundbreaking new book about the coming
of the Civil War, “In the Presence of Mine Enemies.”
Block noted that Ayers’ passion for teaching carries beyond
his own work to close collaborations with his graduate students,
as they prepare for teaching careers, and to long involvement with
the University’s Center for the Liberal Arts in mentoring
K-12 classroom teachers around the state and country.
teaching, serving as dean, writing books, and fundraising for educational
projects, Ayers holds regular undergraduate office hours each week
and encourages his students to visit him. He requires students at
all levels to conduct their own original research into what he has
called “the messy complexity of the past” to gain a
regards classroom walls as the most arbitrary of boundaries and
never stops instructing or inspiring those around him,” said
Charles F. Irons, who received his B.A. and Ph.D. in history at
U.Va. and was one of several colleagues and former students who
sent the awards committee letters testifying to Ayers’ effects
on their personal lives. “In every circumstance, he spreads
his boundless enthusiasm and helps his listeners to imagine a better
is so much a part of the University -— and what is right about
it –- that it is difficult to extricate him from it,”
wrote Lee J. Hark, a doctoral student in education. “He occupies
an almost mythic status in the minds of students. I found the process
of studying with him quite unsettling, which it seems, is exactly
what he wants.”
confirms that notion. “Unless we come to terms with the hardest
parts of this nation’s history, we cannot see it clearly,”
he wrote in a statement about teaching. “And unless we see
our nation clearly we cannot know how best to live within it. Coming
to terms with the past demands that students confront its problems
received his doctorate in American Studies from Yale in 1980 and
joined the U.Va. faculty that year. He has been dean of the College
and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences since 2001.
U.S. Professor of the Year awards, created in 1981, are the only
national honors for excellent undergraduate teaching and mentoring.
other three national winners are:
Outstanding Community College Professor: Paris Svoronos, professor
of chemistry, City University of New York Queensborough Community
College of (Bayside, N.Y.)
Outstanding Baccalaureate College Professor: Thomas Goodwin, professor
of chemistry, Hendrix College (Conway, Ark.)
Outstanding Master’s University and College Professor: Patty
Hale, professor of nursing, Lynchburg College (Lynchburg, Va.)
national winners and winners of state Professor of the Year awards
will be honored at an awards luncheon at the National Press Club
in Washington, D.C. today.
For additional information about the awards please contact Joye
Barksdale at the Council for Advancement and Support of Education
at (202) 478-5680.
interviews, Edward Ayers may be reached at (434) 924-4611 or firstname.lastname@example.org.