Student Recreation and Wellness Center to be renamed in honor of David Williams II

The Recreation Center will be renamed to honor the recent passing of Vanderbilt’s former vice chancellor and athletics director


Ziyi Liu

Athletic Director David Williams in his office April 8, 2016.

Philip Gubbins

During a celebration of life service for former Athletic Director David Williams II Feb. 15, Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos announced that the Student Recreation and Wellness Center will be named to honor the Vanderbilt trailblazer.

Williams was a Vanderbilt University vice chancellor, athletics director and law professor who passed away Feb. 8, just eight days after stepping down from athletics and university affairs.

“The Student Recreation and Wellness Center serves the entire Vanderbilt community and beyond, and thus it is fitting to bear the name of David Williams II,” Associate Vice Chancellor and Deputy Athletic Director Candice Lee said. “His impact far extended the confines of this campus, yet his primary commitment was always to students. Having worked alongside Vice Chancellor Williams for many years, I witnessed first-hand his philosophy in action. We were fortunate to have experienced David, and memorializing him with the naming of the building helps us ensure that his legacy lives on.”  

Williams cared deeply for those around him and for the success of his teams, Maria Bulanova, a junior on the Vanderbilt women’s bowling team, said.

“He always believed in us and always wanted the best for us,” Bulanova said. “He did everything possible to make our experience here better.”

Additionally, Williams invested in the well-rounded success and satisfaction of his student-athletes as both competitors and students, said Brooke Ellis, a second-year on the women’s swimming team.

Williams will also be honored through the Vanderbilt Trailblazers portrait commissioned by Vanderbilt to be painted by Simmie Knox, the first black American artist to receive a presidential portrait commission with Bill Clinton’s. Williams’ portrait will be displayed next to other Trailblazers including Perry Wallace.

Overall, student-athletes noted the legacy Williams will leave on campus.

“At large I think renaming the rec center after him will serve as a reminder of the legacy that he leaves behind,” said Isaiah Rice, a second-year on the men’s basketball team. “Being the man that he was and everything that he did, I think it would serve as a pillar here on campus, as he was a pillar himself when he was here.”