RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The University of Virginia has chosen a Harvard dean known for his work on racial inequality in education as its next president.

James Ryan, dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, was named Friday as the successor to UVA President Teresa Sullivan. He was approved unanimously Friday by the school's Board of Visitors.

“Jim Ryan brings an exceptional blend of talent, experience, energy and vision to the University of Virginia at a time when the institution stands ready to chart a course for continued excellence into our third century,” said Frank M. “Rusty” Conner III, rector of the Board of Visitors and co-chair of the special committee leading the presidential search.

Ryan has deep ties to UVA. He graduated first in his class at UVA's law school and spent 15 years as a law professor there before joining Harvard in 2013.

Ryan succeeded Teresa A. Sullivan, who became the university's first woman president in 2010.

UVA law professor Anne Coughlin said Ryan is known for his extensive writing about racial justice issues in public education.

“As it has for 200 years, the University of Virginia will pursue ever-higher ambitions,” Ryan said. “UVA’s third century should be marked by its continued rise as a model of higher education for the world. It is a public institution in its truest sense, educating citizen leaders in service to our democracy, and improving the lives of people everywhere. I’m thrilled to be a part of it again.”

His appointment comes as UVA faces pressure to address its complicated racial history following a deadly white nationalist rally last month in Charlottesville.