Detroit Mercy mourns passing of Trustee David Williams II

February 12, 2019

Board of Trustee member David Williams II passed away suddenly on Friday, Feb. 8.

Williams was a two-time alumnus. He graduated in 1979 with an MBA and in 1982 with a degree in Law. For the past 18 years, he served as vice chancellor for Athletics and University Affairs at Vanderbilt University. He was the first African American athletic director in the SEC as well as the first to serve at the vice chancellor level at Vanderbilt. His tenure included several innovative programs that helped student-athletes achieve a cumulative 3.0 grade-point average every year for the past 13 years.  During his reign as athletic director, the Commodores won 19 league titles and tournaments, and national championships in bowling, baseball and women’s tennis.

At the end of January, he returned to teaching as a full-time tenured professor at Vanderbilt Law School where he was establishing a new Sports, Law and Society Program.

He held community leadership positions at many nonprofits both in Tennessee and nationally and was a member of the NCAA’s General Advisory board and several other professional and cultural institutions.

Williams is survived by his wife, Gail, also a 1983 graduate of the School of Law, four children, six grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Please keep him and his family in your thoughts and prayers. For more about his life and work, please visit