Nichols-Chancellor Award Recipient & Senior Day Speaker
The Nichols-Chancellor’s Medal is awarded by Vanderbilt University to those persons who define the 21st century and exemplify the best qualities of the human spirit.
In 2006, Vanderbilt Law School graduate Edward Nichols and his wife, Janice, in honor of Edward Carmack and Lucile Hamby Nichols, created and endowed The Nichols-Chancellor’s Medal. The medal is one of the university’s highest honors.
The Nichols Humanitarian Fund is a companion scholarship fund to the Nichols-Chancellor's Medal. The Nichols-Chancellor’s Medal and Nichols Humanitarian Fund seek to make Vanderbilt students better members of their communities and society in general by supporting their humanitarian activities and bringing speakers to Vanderbilt who embody the best of humanity.
The individual on whom this prestigious award is bestowed is asked to speak on Senior Day, which is held the day before Vanderbilt’s annual Commencement ceremony. This year, the Nichols-Chancellor's Medal is awarded to Venus Williams.
Tennis Champion and CEO, EleVen and VStarr Interiors
May 9, 2019
11 a.m. – Noon (Doors open at 9:30 a.m.)
With 7 Grand Slam titles, 5 Wimbledon championships and 4 Olympic gold medals, tennis legend Venus Williams is arguably one of the most accomplished and inspiring women in the history of sports.
Beginning her rise to the top at the age of 14, Williams quickly took the world of tennis by storm rising to the top-ranked position, breaking countless records, and winning numerous championships.
Not only is Williams a force on the court, the fashion community has taken notice of her bold sense of style with numerous recognitions, including landing on Vogue’s ‘Top 10 Best Dressed’ list and Sports Illustrated’s ‘Fashionable 50.’
Encouraged by her mother at an early age to explore her creative side, Williams enrolled in fashion school where she was instantly drawn into the world of fashion and interior design. True to her bold spirit, Williams parlayed her fine-tuned business acumen with her healthy competitive spirit into two successful design ventures.
In 2002, after obtaining an Interior Decorator certification, Williams founded V Starr Interiors, a fullservice commercial and residential interior design firm, which recently announced their partnership with Airbnb partner, Niido to design their first-ever apartment complex.
Continuing with her love for design, Williams obtained an Associate of Science in Fashion Design and in 2007 she launched the activewear brand, EleVen, the largest apparel line ever launched by a female athlete.
Sticking to her entrepreneurial spirit, in 2009 Williams along with her sister, Serena became the first female African-Americans to have a stake in an NFL franchise after joining the ownership group of the Miami Dolphins. The following year, Venus published her motivational book, "Come to Win" which reached No. 5 on the New York Times Best Sellers list.
Throughout her career, Williams has been a steadfast advocate for equality. In 2006 UNESCO, the United Nations’ cultural organization titled her as the first “Promoter of Gender Equality.’ In 2007 it was her unwavering fight, which led Wimbledon to award women players the same pay as their male counterparts and in September 2009, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) honored Williams with the Americanism Award for publicly speaking up for Israeli player Shahar Pe'er who was barred from the Dubai tennis tournament.
Williams' achievements throughout her legendary career have merited her a plethora of additional accolades, including being honored as Glamour Magazine’s ‘Woman of the Year,’ ESPN’s ‘WTA Player of the Year,’ and Forbes’ ‘Celebrity 100’ among others. Williams holds Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Indiana University East and an Associate of Science in Fashion Design from The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale.
About Memorial Gym
- The main gym where Senior Day will be held is NOT air conditioned. Wear comfortable clothes in the event of unusually warm weather.
- Holding seats is not permitted inside Memorial Gym as seating is limited.
- Attendees with special needs:
- Those with special needs and requiring the use of a wheelchair will have priority seating on the East side of the gym. Guests with wheelchairs must enter gym at the pickup location (below). The East side entrance is not handicapped-accessible and there is no access to the gym floor.
- Wheelchair pickup will be located on the corner of Jess Neely Drive and 25th Ave. South (same corner as the baseball field and across from 25th Ave. Garage).
- More information available here.