Victor K. Wilson, who serves as vice president for student affairs at the University of Georgia, has announced his plans to retire on Sept. 30.
Wilson will have served as vice president for student affairs at UGA for 10 years, but that is just a fraction of his UGA experience. From 1984 to 2004, Wilson served in roles as director of new student orientation, assistant to the president and then associate vice president for student affairs. Prior to returning to UGA in 2013, he served for nine years as Vice President for Student Affairs at the College of Charleston.
Wilson earned a bachelor’s degree in social work and a master’s degree in education, both from UGA. With four decades of experience in higher education administration and student affairs, he has served as a strong advocate for students and student development, particularly the inclusion and success of students from historically underrepresented groups.
When Wilson enrolled in UGA as a freshman in 1977, only 16 years after the university formally integrated, he was one of a handful of Black male students on campus. Though his friends and family were initially skeptical of his decision, Wilson pressed on and persevered.
“It was an amazing experience then, and it is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life,” Wilson said. “I have been a very proud ‘Dawg’ throughout these past 46 years.”
In addition to supervising the Division of Student Affairs and its 16 departments, Wilson’s leadership forged numerous successes in student support and engagement, positioning the university as a global standard in the student experience and the learning environment. Some examples include:
- Major initiatives in student well-being, belonging, engagement and experiential learning.
- Enhanced integration with academic life and student learning.
- Advancements in communication with and outreach to students.
- Major facilities improvements (including Black-Diallo-Miller Hall, the university’s newest residence hall, along with major renovations to Brumby and Russell residence halls).
- Leadership of student support and services through the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Unprecedented donor and alumni engagement in the co-curricular experience and student support services (including transformational gifts in support of the Fontaine Center, the Student Veterans Resource Center and Let All the Big Dawgs Eat Food Scholarship, among the nearly $20 million raised for UGA Student Affairs under his leadership).
- A consistent commitment to continuing to build an open, welcoming and inclusive environment for current and former students (including the historic markers installed on the West Lawn of the Tate Student Center honoring the National Pan-Hellenic Council member organizations).
- The establishment of several new departments including Engagement, Leadership, and Service; Student Transitions; and Student Care and Outreach.
“Vice President Wilson’s legacy at the University of Georgia has been profound and has impacted thousands and thousands of our graduates,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “He has been a tireless champion for student success, supporting students while also pushing them to achieve their full potential. Victor has long been a trusted colleague and friend. We are truly grateful for his outstanding service to his alma mater over the last 40 years as a student leader, alumnus, mentor, teacher, senior administrator and national leader in student affairs.”
Wilson’s support for students extends beyond his formal job responsibilities. He has served as an advisor to the Arch Society and UGA’s chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon, and has served as a faculty member and leader of a capstone course for graduate students in the College Student Affairs Administration program in the Mary Frances Early College of Education. For over 20 years, Wilson has consistently made gifts to support various areas of the university, from numerous scholarship funds to student organizations to Facilities Management and many more. He is a member of the 1961 Club and Heritage Society.
Additionally, he has authored numerous scholarly articles and given presentations on issues of race, ethics, crisis management and staff development in higher education. He has held leadership roles in national organizations such as the National Orientation Directors Association and the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, and he is involved with several local community organizations, including serving on the boards of directors for St. Mary’s Hospital and the Northeast Georgia Red Cross.
Bryson Henriott, president of the Student Government Association, said that Wilson is known for his personal care and direct engagement with students.
“VP Wilson is the epitome of student-focused,” said Henriott. “He is always welcoming and available for all students, no matter their need. His humor and lightheartedness combined with his experience and discernment leads to the extreme respect and love he has garnered from the entire student body. I know that I would not be the person I am today if it were not for the mentorship and constant support from VP.”
Wilson expressed his appreciation for the opportunity to serve.
“This has been a labor of love,” Wilson said. “Students are the most important part of our institution. I hope my legacy will always exhibit my concern and care for our students. If anything, my hope was to make a difference in each of their lives.”
To formally recognize Wilson’s contributions, Morehead has announced a campaign to name the Memorial Hall Ballroom in his honor. Through this initiative, his legacy will physically live on in the building where he has worked for the last decade and in the place he spent numerous hours creating amazing memories as an undergraduate student.
“It is fitting that this historic space will now bear the name of an alumnus who has worked across the institution to make UGA a better place for all students,” said Yvette Daniels, president of the UGA Alumni Association. “During my time as an undergraduate student at UGA, the Memorial Hall Ballroom was a home for Black students and student groups to gather. With this renovation and naming, I know that it will continue to build community and serve students, just like Vice President Wilson has done throughout his career.”
The plan includes major renovations to the ballroom that will maximize additional space for student meetings and programming. Those interested in contributing to this campaign can do so by contacting student affairs development or visiting this webpage.