Vanderbilt is planning a special Hall of Fame weekend for September 12-13. A series of events will unfold over those two days, capped by the Induction Banquet Friday evening, September 12 and the Class of 2008 being presented at halftime of Saturday's Rice football game. VUcommodores.com will spotlight one inductee per day leading up to the Hall of Fame weekend.
Vanderbilt has long prided itself on having student-athletes that were truly student-athletes in every sense of the term. As a result, Vanderbilt has been producing not only superstars on the field, but also superstars in the classroom and in life.
If you had to select one person who exemplifies what a Vanderbilt student-athlete is, it would be hard not to pick John Hall.
A former defensive lineman on the Commodores’ football team from 1951-54, Hall was Vanderbilt’s first Academic All-American, he co-captained the 1954 team, graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in chemical engineering, became chairman and chief executive officer of Ashland, Inc and is the only Vanderbilt student-athlete in the CoSIDA Academic Hall of Fame.
It is easy to see why Hall was one of 12 individuals selected to the inaugural class of the Vanderbilt Athletics Hall of Fame.
“I appreciate receiving the recognition by the university and its officials,” said the ever-modest Hall. “I am very honored and surprised. I knew Vanderbilt had created a hall of fame, but I was very surprised to be selected.”
Even though Hall has gone on to accomplish many things since graduating in 1955, he has remained actively involved at Vanderbilt. A native of Knoxville, Tenn., Hall has been a member of Vanderbilt’s Board of Trust since 1987, served as the president of the board from 1995-99 and remains an avid supporter of Vanderbilt’s athletic teams. Most every weekend in the fall, he and his wife, Donna, make the trek from their home in Lexington, Ky., to Nashville to watch the Commodores at Dudley Field.
To Hall, his commitment to Vanderbilt is very miniscule compared to what Vanderbilt has given him.
“One of the reasons I’ve always been so interested in Vanderbilt and Vanderbilt athletics is because Vanderbilt changed my life for the better,” Hall said. “I think without my experience at Vanderbilt, I would not have achieved the success that I was able to realize in the business world.”
As someone who admittedly was far more interested in athletics than academics when he came to Vanderbilt, Hall credits his professors at Vanderbilt for making him succeed in the classroom.
“I really began to work very hard in my engineering school and was able to graduate Magna Cum Laude,” Hall said. “I think that was due to my professors at Vanderbilt who were kind of getting me excited about the academic and intellectual side of life as well as the football side of life.”
Hall also credits his experience in athletics for helping him become a successful businessman.
“Athletics has helped me an enormous amount because as a student-athlete, one learns skills of how to work as a team, how to work under pressure and how to put forth your best effort when it is needed,” Hall said. “A lot of those things are very important in the work place.”
As someone who has accomplished so much in the business world and is soon to be in multiple halls of fame, it is obvious why John Hall exemplifies what a Vanderbilt student-athlete is.