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Ronald Eller


Originally from southern West Virginia, Ron Eller has spent more than forty years writing and teaching about the Appala­chian region.  A descendent of eight generations of families from Appalachia, Dr. Eller served for 15 years as the  Director of the University of Kentucky Appalachian Center where he coordi­nated research and service programs on a wide range of Appalachian policy issues including education, health care, economic develop­ment, civic leadership and the environment.  Currently Distinguished Professor of History at UK,  Dr. Eller is in demand as a speaker on Appalachian issues at colleges, conferences, and community forums throughout the nation, and he serves as a frequent consultant to civic organizations and the national media.  A former Rockefeller Foundation Scholar, he holds the Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and is widely known as a scholar of Appalachian history and the study of rural economic development and social change.  He has published more than sixty articles and reports but is most well known for his award-winning book Miners, Mill­hands and Mountaineers: The Industrialization of the Appalachian South, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 1983. He has served as Chairman of the Governor’s Kentucky Appalachian Task Force, the first Chairman of the Kentucky Appalachian Commission and as a member of the Sustainable Communities Task Force of President Clinton’s Council on Sustainable Development.   Among other awards, he is the recipient of the Jim Wayne Miller Award for Distinguished Service to Appalachia, two East Kentucky Leadership Foundation Special Awards (1999 and 2009), and the University of Kentucky William E. Lyons Award for Outstanding Public Service.  He has worked on projects in rural education reform with the Ford Foundation, the American Council on Education, and the American Association of Community Colleges and has served as the John D. Whisman Visiting Scholar for the Appalachian Regional Commission in Washington.  Dr. Eller’s most recent book is Uneven Ground:  Appalachia Since 1945, published by the University Press of Kentucky in 2008 and winner of the 2008 Willis D. Weatherford Award for the best publication about Appalachia by the Appalachian Studies Association and the 2009 V.O. Key Award for the best book on Southern Politics by the Southern Political Science Association.  The book examines the impact of government programs and economic development on Appalachia since World War II.

Current Students

Contact Information
Ph.D., North Carolina, 1979
Research Interests
  • Appalachian history; public policy and economic development
  • Appalachian Center
  • History