FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 4, 2007
Contact: Carol Anne Baker, Media Relations Specialist
(804) 342-9665 email:
Special Announcement from Dr. Charles F. Bryan, Jr.
Virginia Historical Society President and CEO will retire end of December 2008
Richmond, VA – Charles F. Bryan, Jr., president and CEO of the Virginia Historical Society (VHS) since 1988, has recently announced that his tenure at the Society will end in December of 2008.
Bryan, honored last year with the announcement that a new wing would bear his name, has made significant changes in the programming, collections, management, and community presence of the 175-year-old Virginia Historical Society. He has led the Society from a nationally renowned research and collections facility with little public presence beyond academia, to an award-winning educational center teeming with students, teachers, adult learning groups, community programs, and museum visitors. At the same time, the VHS has strengthened its reputation among scholars. Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian David McCullough said in a 2006 speech that of all America's historical societies, the VHS is "among the best."
The decision to retire was not an easy one, said Bryan. "Many long-tenured directors are reluctant to face the reality of eventual retirement. But one of the most important final measures of a CEO's tenure is working with the board and staff to develop a succession plan in advance of retirement. If the institution suffers from a poorly considered or hasty transition in leadership, it could be argued that the CEO failed to properly prepare the board and staff."
Bryan, or "Charlie" as he is known among his staff, is a VMI graduate with a Master's Degree in history from the University of Georgia and a Ph.D. in history from the University of Tennessee. He served two years active duty in the United States Army. During his tenure at the VHS, he co-edited two best-selling books on the Civil War, Eye of the Storm and Images from the Storm. He has served as president of the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH), serves on the board of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, and currently is president of the Independent Research Libraries Association. In addition to transforming the VHS into a more accessible museum with a statewide mission, Bryan has helped to raise more than $110 million and has overseen three expansions of the Society's main headquarters in Richmond. Collections and attendance have grown dramatically, as has membership—to one of the highest among state historical societies in the country. Colleagues and staff alike revere Charlie for his leadership and vision. It is consensus among the staff at the VHS that Bryan "loves what he does." It is a sentiment Bryan is quick to affirm.
"Next to marrying [my wife] Cammy and having our family, coming to the VHS was the best thing I have ever done. It has been a dream come true, thanks in no small part to being able to work with such a splendid board of trustees and talented staff throughout my tenure…I still love my job and this great institution. I couldn't ask for a better group of colleagues with whom to work."
But Bryan is quick to note that this announcement comes at this time in order to allow time to prepare for a smooth transition. "I haven't left yet," he said. "There is still a lot of exciting and important work to be done over the next two years. I plan on continuing to give my best and more until that last day in 2008."
The Virginia Historical Society is located at 428 N. Boulevard. The Story of Virginia, An American Experience,
a 10,000-square-foot exhibition with more than a thousand objects covering all of Virginia history from prehistoric
times to the present is featured in the Robins Center for Virginia History. Hours: Monday-Saturday 10am - 5pm
and Sunday 1pm - 5pm (Museum Galleries only). Admission: $5/adults, $4/seniors 55+ ($2/Tuesdays–galleries
only), $3/children and students, free/members. Admission to the galleries is free on Sundays. For group tour
information, call (804) 342-9652. For more information, please call (804) 358-4901 or visit