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Will Ed Ayers Follow Spiders' Coach to U.Va.?

The University of Virginia got the coach. Is the president next?



The University of Virginia got the coach. Is the president next?

While U.Va. announced its hiring of University of Richmond football coach Mike London on Monday, talk was circulating about another possible defector: UR's president, Ed Ayers.

John T. Casteen III, president of U.Va. for 19 years, is retiring in August. Rector John O. Wynne's presidential search committee is interviewing applicants following an intense vetting process.

Daniel J. Palazzolo, professor of political science at the University of Richmond, says the rumors have been making the rounds. Palazzolo, who served as an assistant to Ayers' predecessor, William Cooper, says it would be unusual for a president to leave so soon. Ayers took the UR post in July 2007.

“Generally speaking, presidents have come and stayed long enough. … to see significant benefits from the work that they've done,” Palazzolo says. “It would be very unusual for Richmond for a president to leave after a couple of years.”
Ayers, an award-winning Civil War historian and the former dean of arts and sciences at the University of Virginia, came to Richmond after a 25-year teaching career in Charlottesville.

“I think it's a credit to Ed Ayers that so many people consider him a possibility,” political consultant Bob Holsworth says. “In many people's minds, it would seem pretty natural. … for Ayers to be a good fit as the U.Va. president.”

But when considering a job that's sought after by “very qualified people around the world,” Holsworth adds, “it would be wrong to suggest that somehow Ayers would be the only viable candidate.”

Carol S. Wood, U.Va.'s assistant vice president for public affairs and a spokeswoman for the board of visitors, says that the search committee has “no deadline” for selecting a new president, but that it may announce its pick sometime this spring.

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