Across Grounds

Welcoming UVA's Ninth President, James E. Ryan

Or rather, welcoming back!

On August 1, 2018, James E. Ryan began his term as the University of Virginia's ninth president.

A widely respected and accomplished educator and legal scholar, Ryan earned his law degree from UVA and previously served on the School of Law faculty. Since 2013, he has served as dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the Charles William Eliot Professor of Education.

Click here to see Ryan's first day in office, told through photos.

“Jim Ryan brings an exceptional blend of talent, experience, energy, and vision to the University of Virginia at a time when the institution stands ready to chart a course for continued excellence into our third century,” said Frank M. “Rusty” Conner III, rector of the Board of Visitors and co-chair of the special committee leading the presidential search.

“The University of Virginia has occupied a special place in my heart since the day I first stepped on Grounds,” Ryan said. “Returning here to continue playing a role in the extraordinary work of this University community is deeply humbling, and an opportunity that I will strive every day to honor.”

Ryan succeeds Teresa A. Sullivan, who in 2010 became the University’s first woman president and guided UVA to new heights with the development and implementation of a new strategic plan, the completion of a $3 billion capital campaign, and the continued strengthening of the University’s academic and research enterprises. 

During lunchtime on his first day of office, President Ryan attended a Grand Rounds lecture on opioid addiction at the School of Medicine by Virginia Govenor Ralph Northam, a pediatric neurologist. Pictured here: Ryan, alongside the dean of the School of Medicine, David Wilkes, and Pamela Sutton-Wallace, CEO of the UVA Medical Center.
(Photo: Sanjay Suchak)

For months, Ryan has worked behind the scenes to prepare for his first day.

“Since my appointment was announced last September, I have had conversations with students, faculty, staff, alumni, and members of the Charlottesville community about their hopes and aspirations for the future,” he wrote in an opening-day email to the University community. “And I plan to spend the next several months meeting and hearing from as many people as I can as we work to refine a vision for the next decade of UVA.”

To make that happen, Ryan launched “Ours to Shape,” an initiative that invites community input on questions about three thematic areas that define the University: community, discovery, and service.

Pamela Sutton-Wallace, CEO of UVA Medical Center and a member of the presidential search committee, has confidence in Ryan's ability to positively shape the University. “Jim Ryan impressed the search committee with his fierce intellect and a proven ability to establish rapport with a variety of stakeholders, including students, faculty, staff, and the broader community. On a personal level, he is able to quickly make connections with others in an approach that projects genuine humility, warmth, and an engaging sense of humor.”