University of Richmond President Edward L. Ayers announced Friday he will step down in June 2015 after he finishes his eighth year as leader of the prestigious private institution in Virginia’s capital.

Ayers, 61, a Civil War historian, has presided at the 4,130-student university since July 2007. Previously he was dean of arts and sciences at the University of Virginia.

The University of Richmond said in a news release that undergraduate applications to the university have risen nearly 50 percent since 2007, while the credentials of entering classes have simultaneously improved. It also said that the share of students at the school who come from low-income families and qualify for federal Pell grants has risen significantly.

The university’s endowment grew under Ayers to more than $2 billion as of fiscal 2013, which ranked 34th in the nation. In fiscal 2007, the endowment stood at about $1.7 billion, ranking 44th.

“I have a lot of unfinished scholarly work to do, and I want to do that work as a faculty member at the University of Richmond,” Ayers said in a letter Friday to the campus community. “I have what feels like a million books to read and at least two to write.”