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Nicklas named VP of NIU public safety, community relations

DeKALB – The Northern Illinois University Board of Trustees on Thursday promoted Bill Nicklas to vice president for public safety and community relations.

Nicklas has served the university in multiple roles since joining the universtiy in October 2011, most recently as acting director of public safety after the university police department was mired in an evidence mishandling controversy involving rape charges against a former officer. He was city manager of DeKalb from 1992 to 1997 and held the same position in Sycamore from 1998 to 2011.

In his new position, Nicklas will continue to oversee the public safety department and use his municipal experience to work with leaders in DeKalb and Sycamore to strengthen relationships.

“[The board’s] support and the confidence of [NIU] President [John] Peters are humbling,” Nicklas said after accepting the position. “I welcome the challenge represented by my heightened responsibilities, and I am eager to jump in.”

Peters told board members that Nicklas’ background made him a perfect choice for the position that combines once-separate duties. Peters pointed to Nicklas’ ability to transition from his initial position of associate vice president for institutional planning and sustainability to acting public safety director as an indicator of his leadership.

“The scope of Bill’s position has evolved significantly,” Peters said. “Now he has the chance to continue the work he has already done.”

Eddie Williams, NIU’s chief of operations and executive vice president of finance and facilities, is on paid leave as a federal investigation into the NIU police and his Eden’s Garden housing development continues. Williams previously supervised the public safety department. NIU spokesman Paul Palian said he could not comment on Williams’ future with NIU.

“This is a position that takes advantage of Nicklas’ adept skills and unique background as a city leader in both Sycamore and DeKalb,” Palian said.

It should not be long before Nicklas meets his future boss. Board members announced they would interview the final four candidates for the presidency today and Saturday with community and university stakeholders.

Board member Robert Boey, who also served as co-chairman of the search committee that selected the finalists, said the four candidates the board will interview remind him of the strong pool officials chose from 13 years ago when Peters was appointed president.

“It is my honor and my privilege to have served as part of this committee,” Boey said of the 28-member search committee. “It very easily could have been a dissipated group, but all self-interests were set aside to do the right thing for this university.”

The goal is to have a new president ready to begin July 1. Peters announced Oct. 12 that he will retire June 30.

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