Barbara Perry

Fast Facts

  • Gerald L. Baliles Professor and Director of Presidential Studies 
  • Former Judicial Fellow at the U.S. Supreme Court
  • Researcher for Chief Justice William Rehnquist
  • Expertise on Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Mitch McConnell, John F. Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy, Edward KennedyRose Kennedy, Franklin Roosevelt, First Ladies

Areas Of Expertise

  • Domestic Affairs
  • Law and Justice
  • Social Issues
  • Elections
  • Founding and Shaping of the Nation
  • Leadership
  • Political Parties and Movements
  • Politics
  • The Presidency
  • Supreme Court

Barbara A. Perry is the Gerald L. Baliles Professor and Director of Presidential Studies at the University of Virginia's Miller Center, where she co-directs the Presidential Oral History Program. She has authored or edited 14 books on presidents, First Ladies, the Kennedy family, the Supreme Court, and civil rights and civil liberties. Professor Perry has conducted more than 100 interviews for the George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama Presidential Oral History Projects and she directs the Edward Kennedy Oral History Project. She served as a U.S. Supreme Court fellow and has worked for both Republican and Democratic members of the Senate.

Her books include 42: Inside the Presidency of Bill Clinton (edited with Michael Nelson and Russell Riley); 41: Inside the Presidency of George H.W. Bush (edited with Michael Nelson); Rose Kennedy: The Life and Times of a Political Matriarch; Jacqueline Kennedy: First Lady of the New Frontier; Edward Kennedy: An Oral History, and The Priestly Tribe: The Supreme Court's Image in the American Mind.

A native of Louisville, Kentucky, Professor Perry earned a PhD in government from the University of Virginia; an MA degree in politics, philosophy, and economics from Oxford University; and a BA degree in political science, with highest honors, from the University of Louisville.

Professor Perry is a frequent media commentator for national and international news sources. She is prepared to discuss American presidents, especially FDR through Obama, with particular expertise on JFK and the Kennedy family. Professor Perry has taught all aspects of American government/politics and can respond to media questions on most topics related to presidential campaigns and elections, public policy, and presidential communications. In addition to the American presidency (including First Ladies), her research, writing, and commentary have covered the U.S. Supreme Court, particularly presidential appointments, as well as civil rights and civil liberties. 

Professor Perry has been a commentator for such outlets as CBS, PBS, CNN, C-SPAN, MSNBC, NPR, PRI, Fox News, BBC, Canadian Broadcasting Corp., Swiss TV, HuffPost LiveThe Morning RundownThe Andrea Mitchell ReportThe NewsHour1A, The Diane Rehm Show, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Sunday Times of London, USA TodayBloomberg NewsPOLITICO, the Daily Beast, and the Associated Press. She regularly contributes to UVA’s blog, Thoughts from the Lawn.

Previously, Professor Perry was the Carter Glass Professor of Government and founding director of the Center for Civic Renewal at Sweet Briar College in Virginia. In 1994-95, she received the Justice Tom C. Clark Award as the outstanding Supreme Court Fellow that year. In addition to providing research for Chief Justice William Rehnquist’s speeches, she briefed more than 3,000 visitors to the court from 70 different countries. She was the Senior Fellow for Civics Education at the University of Louisville’s McConnell Center in 2006-07, where she is currently a Non-Resident Fellow. From 1996 through 2008, she taught in the Supreme Court Summer Institute, co-sponsored by the Supreme Court Historical Society and Street Law. In 2012, Perry received the Virginia Social Science Association’s Scholar Award in Political Science. The Sons of the American Revolution, Virginia Society, awarded her their 2013 Silver Good Citizenship Medal for “her outstanding achievements in the study, writing, and teaching of American history.” The University of Louisville’s College of Arts and Sciences named her the 2014 Alumna Fellow of the Year.

Professor Perry has participated in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Information Programs and lectures for the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, for which she taught a 2015 online graduate course on the Kennedy presidency and offers a teacher institute on JFK. From 2010-14, she served as an adjunct faculty member at the Federal Executive Institute in Charlottesville, providing seminars to senior federal executives on the Kennedy presidency, the U.S. Supreme Court, and leadership.

Barbara Perry News Feed

The White House violated federal law in withholding security assistance to Ukraine, an action at the center of President Donald Trump’s impeachment, a federal watchdog agency said Thursday. GUESTS:
Anna Edgerton, politics editor for Bloomberg; she tweets @annaedge4. Barbara Perry, professor, co-chair of the presidential oral history program and director of presidential studies at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center; she tweets @BarbaraPerryUVA. David Rivkin, partner at the law firm BakerHostetler; he has previously held positions at the Department of Justice, in the Office of White House Counsel and elsewhere in the federal government; he tweets @DavidRivkin
Barbara Perry KPCC
According to Barbara Perry, director of presidential studies at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, the nation’s founders chose the chief justice to preside over impeachment trials precisely because partisan senators cannot be expected to be impartial. Regardless of the Senate verdict, though, the House impeachment vote will forever hang over Trump’s presidency to some degree.
Barbara Perry ABC6
Bush was punished for the Iraq War – but only after it had begun to sour and the public re-evaluated its earlier support for the action, notes presidential scholar Barbara Perry, director of presidential studies at the University of Virginia's Miller Center. The payback came in the 2006 midterm elections, when Democrats took control of both the House and Senate.
Barbara Perry US News & World Report
Barbara Perry, a presidential scholar at the University of Virginia, said Mr. Trump could benefit politically by getting Americans to “rally around the flag.” But it could all backfire if Iran retaliates and the situation spirals out of control. “That could be the sort of cataclysm that siphons off votes from Trump,” said Prof. Perry, director of presidential studies at the Miller Center on the presidency. “There is not a majority of Americans at the moment who want him removed. If this turns really sour, that could happen."
Barbara Perry The Globe and Mail
ecently, I attended the christening of the USS John F. Kennedy, the name it will take when launched as the newest aircraft carrier in the American fleet. Although I grew up boating on the Ohio River, this event at Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia clearly represented an upgrade in my naval experience. A crystal clear December day, with an invigorating breeze off the James River, created a stunning setting for the massive carrier whose deck covers five acres. The floating city will transport 5,000 officers and sailors on missions of war and peace.
Barbara Perry The Hill
Trump was elected in large part because supporters wanted someone who didn’t care about the old rules and institutional strictures, and the actions leading to his impeachment stemmed from just that instinct, said Barbara Perry, a presidential scholar at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center.
Barbara Perry The Philadelphia Inquirer