In his tenure at the VHS, Dr. Bryan quadrupled the size of the headquarters building, significantly expanded educational programs statewide, and raised more than $110 million. In doing so, he transformed the VHS into a premiere educational institution, the place where schoolchildren and adults could go to learn about the commonwealth’s past in its entirety—all time periods and all regions and through all manner of collections.
Dr. Bryan retired in 2008, after a thirty-year career as a public historian. He first served as assistant editor of the Papers of Andrew Jackson, a University of Tennessee documentary editing project. Then following stints as executive director of the East Tennessee Historical Society and St. Louis Mercantile Library Association, Dr. Bryan was appointed president and chief executive officer of the Virginia Historical Society in 1988. His extensive publications on museum management and the Civil War include the best seller, co-edited with Nelson Lankford, Eye of the Storm, a Civil War Odyssey, and a follow-up volume Images from the Storm, based on the diary of a Union soldier. After several years of writing periodic op/ed pieces on historical subjects and the nonprofit world in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Dr. Bryan now is a frequent columnist for that paper.
He served as president of the American Association for State and Local History and was president of the Independent Research Libraries Association. Dr. Bryan is a lecturer for the Organizations of American Historians' Distinguished Lecture Series, and is a board member of both the VMI Foundation and the Medical College of Virginia Foundation. Dr. Bryan was selected as the Outstanding Virginian of 2009 and recognized by the Virginia General Assembly for "his distinguished contributions, outstanding achievements, and inspiring leadership and service to the citizens of Virginia." He is a Board Alumnus and a current independent consultant to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. A well-known and frequently quoted historian, Dr. Bryan is a VMI alumnus and received his Ph.D. in history from the University of Tennessee (UT), where he was recently honored as an outstanding alumnus.
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