February 12, 2019

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

Williams was a two-time alumnus of University of Detroit Mercy. 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.

Vanderbilt University recently produced a video about Williams' life and legacy. Filmed throughout Detroit, including Detroit Mercy Law's Riverfront Campus, the documentary highlights Williams' childhood in Detroit and his time in law school. He met his wife Gail, a 1983 graduate, during law school, and he previously served as an adjunct professor at Detroit Mercy Law. Watch the video here.

Please keep Williams and his family in your thoughts and prayers. For more about his life and work, please visit