David Williams II
Artist: Simmie Knox
Location: Kirkland Hall
Born and raised in Detroit, David Williams II was Vanderbilt University’s first African American vice chancellor and the first African American athletics director in the Southeastern Conference. He also served as general counsel and secretary of the university. As athletics director, Williams focused on elevating the student-athlete experience and highlighting the intersection of sports and society. The Commodores won four national championships under Williams’ leadership, including in bowling, baseball and women’s tennis. Williams emphasized the need to recognize Vanderbilt’s history during the civil rights movement, helping the university to reconcile with the first African American basketball players at Vanderbilt, Perry Wallace and Godfrey Dillard. He was also active in the Nashville community; he served on the boards and councils of numerous organizations, including the Nashville Sports Council, the Nashville Symphony and the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, where he chaired the Sports Fund Advisory Board. He died on Feb. 8, 2019, at age 71, one week after stepping down from his role as vice chancellor and athletics director to return to teaching full time as a professor of law at Vanderbilt Law School. The university’s David Williams II Recreation and Wellness Center was named after Williams in 2019.
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Vanderbilt Equality Weekend: Sights & Sounds