Competition: US & Canada
Education: University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
William R. Ferris is the Joel Williamson Eminent Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and an adjunct professor in the Folklore Curriculum. He is senior associate director of the Center for the Study of the American South (CSAS), and is widely recognized as a leader in Southern studies, African-American music, and folklore.
He is the former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Prior to his role at NEH, Mr. Ferris served as the founding director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi, where he was a faculty member for eighteen years.
Mr. Ferris has written and edited ten books and created fifteen documentaries, most of which deal with African-American music and other folklore representing the Mississippi Delta. He coedited the Pulitzer Prize-nominated Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, which contains entries on every aspect of Southern culture and is widely recognized as a major reference work linking popular, folk, and academic cultures.