Experts

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

Historically, debates have proven to allow a candidate to project an image, said Barbara Perry, a professor and director of presidential studies at the University of Virginia's Miller Center. Richard Nixon's "ghastly" appearance in the first televised presidential debate in U.S. history, in 1960, gave the younger and less experienced John F. Kennedy a boost, potentially helping his popular vote victory of 0.17 percentage points, she said.
Barbara Perry NBC News
“Yes, on occasion we do have these confrontations about the process,” said Barbara Perry, presidential studies director at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center. Perry said compared to past nominations, Judge Barrett’s will likely garner criticism for the confirmation process itself more so than the nominations of Judges Brett Kavanaugh or Neil Gorsuch. The latter two judges faced criticism mostly centered on their personal and judicial records.
Barbara Perry NewsNation
During this Monday’s Batten Hour, Barbara Perry, Director of Presidential Studies at UVA's Miller Center, will discuss Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s legacy and the future of the Supreme Court following Justice Ginsburg’s death last week.
Barbara Perry UVA Batten Hour
Barbara Perry is interviewed on WGN America about Barrett's Supreme Court nomination.
Barbara Perry WGN America
University of Virginia Miller Center Presidential Studies Director Barbara Perry talked about the 60th anniversary of the Kennedy-Nixon debates, the first televised U.S. presidential debates.
Barbara Perry C-SPAN
Presuming Senate confirmation for President Donald Trump's third Supreme Court nomination, Judge Amy Coney Barrett would become the sixth Roman Catholic on the nation's highest court, joining John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Sonia Sotomayor, and Brett Kavanaugh. Neil Gorsuch was raised Catholic but attends an Episcopal church. Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan are Jewish.
Barbara Perry CNN