A local university will soon begin the search for a new leader.
University of Richmond announced Friday that Edward L. Ayers, its president of almost seven years, will step down June 30, 2015. The 61-year-old is the University of Richmond’s ninth president.
Ayers, a noted Civil War scholar, will remain at the school as a faculty member teaching history.
UR spokeswoman Linda Evans said the school’s Board of Trustees will form a search committee by summer to find Ayers’ successor. The committee, which will include faculty, staff, students and alumni, will kick off the search in the fall, she said.
Ayers’ 2015 departure is timed to coincide with the completion of UR’s strategic plan, dubbed “The Richmond Promise.”
“As I reflect on all that we have accomplished together, I have decided that these culminations provide a natural conclusion to my term as president,” Ayers said in a letter released last week. “Next year is a fitting one for a university transition as we finish important work.”
During his time at UR, Ayers has overseen a nearly 50 percent increase in undergraduate applications and progress on the first phase of the university’s 10-year master plan. That included the creation of the international center, an addition to the business school, renovations to the law school and the Robins Center, and construction of residence halls and a student activity center.
The school has also seen steady growth to its endowment, which has surpassed $2 billion.
Ayers’ tenure was not without one controversy. In 2012, the university caught flack for cutting its men’s soccer and track teams in favor of men’s lacrosse.
One of the school’s largest donors, Bobby Ukrop, then resigned from the Board of Trustees, reportedly because he was upset by a perceived lack of transparency in the decision.
According to a December report from the Chronicle of Higher Education, Ayers’ total compensation was $836,289 in 2011, the most recent year available. That made him the second highest paid private college president in Virginia, behind only Kenneth P. Ruscio at Washington and Lee University. Ayers received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee, and a master’s and doctorate from Yale University.
Prior to his arrival at UR, Ayers was a dean at the University of Virginia.