Charles F. (Charlie) Bryan, Jr., Ph.D.
Charles Bryan is founding partner with Daniel P. Jordan of Bryan & Jordan Consulting, LLC, which specializes in strategic planning, fund raising, board and staff relations, and executive searches for nonprofit institutions and higher education.
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.
Founded in 1831, the VHS has developed a vast collection of books, manuscripts, visual art, and museum objects that support the study of Virginia history. He headed a staff of 100 people involved in a variety of functions, including a large museum operation, a major research library, publications, and a wide range of educational programs.
During his twenty year tenure, Dr. Bryan oversaw capital campaigns that raised more than $110 million, which resulted in quadrupling the size of the VHS's headquarters building and a significant expansion of programs and services statewide and beyond.
Midway through Dr. Bryan's presidency of the VHS, the American Association of Museums noted the transformation that had taken place in an official report: "These achievements now place the Virginia Historical Society in the first rank of historical organizations in the nation. This is a notable achievement rarely matched in so short a time." When he retired, Dr. Bryan was named president and CEO emeritus, and the VHS's new education wing was named in his honor.
Born and raised in McMinnville, Tennessee, Dr. Bryan is a distinguished military graduate of the Virginia Military Institute. He served two years active duty as an officer in the U.S. Army. He earned a Master's Degree in history from the University of Georgia and his Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee with a specialty in the American Civil War. He has taught graduate courses at the University of Tennessee, University of Missouri-St. Louis, and Arizona State University.
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, published by the Free Press (a division of Simon & Schuster) 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. His most recent book, Imperfect Past: History in a New Light (2015) is a compilation of those essays.
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 member of the board of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. He is a board member of both the VMI Foundation and the Medical College of Virginia Foundation. Dr. Bryan has played an instrumental role in the establishment of a comprehensive Parkinson's Disease Research and Treatment Center at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, having helped raise nearly $10 million.
During his career, Dr. Bryan served as a frequent reviewer of grant proposals for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). He also was a regular visiting evaluator for the American Association of Museums accreditation program and for the Museum Assessment Program (MAP).
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 holds honorary doctoral degrees from the Virginia Commonwealth University and Randolph-Macon College. Both the Massachusetts Historical Society and the American Antiquarian Society, two of the nation's oldest learned societies, elected him to honorary memberships in recognition of his contributions to the history profession. In 2009, he received the Distinguished Service Award from the American Association for State and Local History "for his extraordinary leadership in the field of public history."
Dr. Bryan and his wife of forty-seven years, Cammy, reside in Richmond. They have two married children and three grandchildren. Their daughter graduated from the United States Naval Academy and is married to an attorney in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She is the managing editor of an academic dental journal. Their son graduated from VMI, teaches computer science at the University of Washington-Takoma, and is married to a U.S. Army doctor specializing in Pediatric Rheumatology currently serving at Fort Lewis, Washington.