Celebrating the outstanding work of a University of Georgia leader known for his commitment to the university and its students, the UGA community gathered for a dedication ceremony Sept. 27 to celebrate the naming of the Victor K. Wilson Ballroom at Memorial Hall.
Wilson is a two-time UGA graduate and continues to give back as vice president for student affairs. He retires on Sept. 30 after a decade in this role and more than 40 years of service to UGA.
The ballroom is a frequent gathering place for student groups and university events, serving as a symbol of coming together—a space that is fitting to highlight Wilson’s support of students throughout his tenure.
University of Georgia President Jere W. Morehead expressed his appreciation for the ballroom itself, as well as for Vice President Wilson’s legacy of student support and engagement.
“Memorial Hall has played such a central role in activity at the university, and this ballroom has served as an important event space for many students” Morehead said. “I am grateful to have the opportunity to honor someone who has meant so much to those in the room and to the University of Georgia.”
Under Wilson’s leadership, the university saw unprecedented donor and alumni engagement; moved forward major initiatives in student well-being, engagement and experiential learning; completed major facilities improvements and grew its commitment to building an open, welcoming and inclusive environment for all students.
“He has devoted more than four decades to the success and well-being of students in higher education everywhere, including this place,” Morehead said. “It is no coincidence that UGA has gained a national reputation for excellence in higher education.”
Approximately 100 select students, faculty, staff, family, and friends gathered to celebrate Wilson and the newly renovated ballroom, which features an updated stage and presentation area as well as a completely renovated upstairs area used for meetings and casual conversations. Foundation Fellow and Barry Goldwater Scholar Emilio Ferrara reflected on opportunities to work directly with Wilson, lauding his dedication to UGA and its students and his unique leadership style.
“With his trademark sense of humor, unapologetic candor, and unceasing kindness, VP Wilson brings an authenticity to every conversation that makes you feel like you belong,” Ferrara said. “With this physical space as a constant reminder, I hope we can be challenged to follow his example to be kind and to serve others.”
Wilson’s history with the university goes back to 1977, when he enrolled in UGA as a freshman. He returned in 1984, serving as director of new student orientation, assistant to the president and then associate vice president for student affairs through 2004. He briefly left the university, serving as vice president for student affairs at the College of Charleston for nine years before returning to Athens in 2013. University System of Georgia Regent Samuel D. Holmes expressed his appreciation for Wilson’s decades of service.
“No one has been surprised that Victor became an iconic figure on this campus. Victor realized that student success rises off the charts when each student in included, plugged in, and involved on campus,” Holmes said. “Victor made a difference in thousands of lives, and I consider it an extreme honor to be included on that list.”
Even as he retires from his current role, Wilson said his dedication to the university remains unwavering. He hopes the Victor K. Wilson Ballroom at Memorial Hall will continue to serve students and the university community for years to come as they gather together for learning and fellowship at the heart of campus. He thanked those in the room and the many individuals who supported him throughout his career.
“I have never been comfortable when the spotlight is on me, but when I look around at the smiles and the supporters in this room, I realize how thankful I am,” he said.
Wilson recounted several of his own memories from events in the ballroom, including National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) step shows, Pamoja gospel choir concerts, and his first donation at a blood drive.
“Events in this room made me realize that this is my home, and UGA is where I was meant to be,” Wilson said. “I hope that you remember that this room has such a significant meaning to me in my life and that you know the deep love and admiration I have for this place.