William C. (Bill) Ackerman, UCLA’s first tennis coach and, until his retirement in 1967, the director of Associated Students of UCLA, the organization that oversees all student activities, died Monday at the age of 85.
Ackerman, the man for whom the Student Union is named, became a student at UCLA in 1919, its first year of existence. As a sophomore he became player-coach of the men’s tennis team, which he continued to coach until 1950, when the Bruin tennis team brought the school its first National Collegiate Athletic Assn. title in any sport. Ackerman’s tennis teams won 10 Pacific Coast Conference titles.
As ASUCLA graduate student manager (a position now known as executive director), Ackerman served as athletic director and also had responsibility for publications, music, drama, Kerckhoff Hall (the original student union building), the student store, the cafeteria and the ticket office. The athletic department has since become a separate department.
A lifelong member of the Beverly Hills Rotary Club, he and USC’s Bill Hunter helped establish the Coliseum Relays. He also was a member of the Southern California Olympic Committee. In 1984 he was inducted into the College Tennis Hall of Fame, and was a charter member of the UCLA Athletic Hall of Fame. He was Alumnus of the Year in 1947.
A memorial service will be held Friday at 3 p.m. at Forest Lawn in Hollywood Hills.