DeKALB – Top Northern Illinois University administrator Bill Nicklas had been considering resigning from the university for several weeks before making it official Monday.
Nicklas, most recently NIU's vice president of operations and community relations, resigned effective Nov. 1. Nicklas said he isn't leaving for another position, but will take some time to evaluate where work will fit into his life going forward.
“I had mixed feelings about this, but it finally came down to: my family and friends have been wondering when I can be a grandpa again,” Nicklas said.
NIU President Doug Baker named Nicklas, 66, the vice president of operations and community relations in March. Before then, Nicklas worked as the vice president for public safety and community relations. He is responsible for facilities, human resources, public safety and community relations and serves as a liaison to the board of trustees, earning $200,000 annually.
In a prepared statement, Baker wished Nicklas well and complimented him for the many contributions he made in a relatively short time of "great transition at NIU."
"[Nicklas] is a collaborator who worked across our complex organization and in the community to promote an environment conducive to student career success," Baker said in the statement.
Nicklas started working at NIU in 2011 when former NIU President John Peters named Nicklas the university's first associate vice president for institutional planning and sustainability. He came to NIU after 13 years as Sycamore city manager and was DeKalb's city manager from 1992 to 1997.
Nicklas was named the acting director of public safety in November 2012 after a DeKalb County judge ruled that NIU police had mishandled evidence in a rape case against rookie NIU police officer Andrew Rifkin. In February 2013, the university fired police Chief Donald Grady, who named Nicklas in a pending lawsuit claiming discrimination.
“I know I've been a change agent and that involved some legal processes,” Nicklas said.
The driving factor to resign, however, Nicklas said, was how little time he devoted to seeing his three children and seven grandchildren, none of whom live close to him.
"I've been feeling a loss in the last couple years, and it's really weighing on me," Nicklas said.
Nicklas said he's grateful for the opportunities Baker gave him, which he will miss. Through Nov. 1, he will shepherd several projects, such as the demolition of Douglas Hall, the launch of the Huskie Pup electric tram line and adding some soft lighting to the campus core.
NIU spokesman Paul Palian said NIU officials did not have immediate plans for how they would replace Nicklas or distribute his responsibilities.
The Nicklas timeline
• August 2014: Announced resignation from NIU, effective Nov. 1
• March 2014: Became vice president for operations and community relations
• November 2013: Named vice president for public safety and community relations
• November 2012: Named acting director of public safety
• October 2011: Hired as NIU's first associate vice president for institutional planning and sustainability
• 1998 to 2011: Served as Sycamore's city manager
• 1992 to 1997: Served as DeKalb's city manager