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Bill Nicklas accepts new associate vice president post to guide university planning, sustainability

August 29, 2011
Bill Nicklas

Bill Nicklas

Northern Illinois University has named Bill Nicklas as the university’s new associate vice president for institutional planning and sustainability, President John G. Peters announced today.

Nicklas, who currently serves as city manager for the City of Sycamore, will guide the university’s institutional planning efforts and oversee community-based strategic and economic development initiatives in his new position at NIU.

Nicklas was the unanimous selection of a summer search committee that included Dave Changnon, Professor of Geography; Steve Cunningham, Vice President for Administration & Human Resources; Jerry Blakemore, Vice President & General Counsel; Kathy Buettner, Vice President for University Relations; and Dori Hooker, Executive Assistant to President Peters.

In addition to serving as the chief administrative officer for the City of Sycamore for the last 13 years, Nicklas also had responsibility for the city’s financial management, city planning and economic development. Nicklas also served as city manager in DeKalb from 1992 until 1997 where he had similar roles and responsibilities. He is a member of the DeKalb County Economic Development Corporation and served on the DeKalb County Storm Water Planning Commission.

Nicklas’ new role at NIU will focus heavily on helping the university develop and implement the necessary plans to achieve the goals set forth in the Vision 2020 Initiative, including data collection and analysis across the university necessary to successfully track the university’s progress towards the campus-wide benchmarks set during the Vision 2020 process.

“We are very excited to welcome Bill to this new post,” Peters said. “In every position he has ever held, Bill has exhibited an outstanding ability to manage complex programs, analyze data and guide initiatives from creation to completion. Those skills will serve him well in his new role. The success of NIU’s Vision 2020 Initiative is vital to our future as a university, and I am confident that Bill is the right person to help us meet our goals.”

Nicklas drew similar praise from his peers, including DeKalb County Administrator Ray Bockman. “Bill is one of the best ‘bridge builders’ that I have ever had the privilege of working with in my entire public sector career,” he said. “I cannot imagine a better match for this position.”

Kishwaukee Community College President Tom Choice has served alongside Bill Nicklas on the DeKalb County Economic Development Corporation’s Executive Committee. Choice also had high praise for Nicklas: “Bill is the man people often enlist when an important project or initiative needs to get done.”

Vision 2020 logoNicklas expects to step into his new role with NIU on Oct. 3, 2011. He will serve as a member of the president’s senior cabinet.

A graduate of Bucknell University, Nicklas holds both a master’s and a Ph.D. in American History from Northern Illinois University.

“My professional work as a public administrator in the DeKalb-Sycamore area over the last 25 years has provided me with a deep knowledge and thorough understanding of both the university and DeKalb County’s diverse communities,” Nicklas said. “I believe my background in community-based strategic and economic development initiatives, as well as my public sector experience in policy formulation, will be of assistance to the university as it moves to implement the lofty goals set forth in its Vision 2020 initiative.”

Launched last fall, the Vision 2020 Initiative, chaired by Peters, is charged with creating and implementing a new vision for NIU: becoming the most student-centered public research university in the Midwest and establishing strategic goals for the coming decade in areas of student, faculty and facility excellence.

The Vision 2020 Steering Committee, composed of people representing all facets of the university, is coordinating with seven working groups to set ambitious benchmark goals for such areas as graduation and student-retention rates; engaged learning opportunities; and external grants and contracts.

The Vision 2020 Initiative will be the focus of Peters’ State of the University address at 3 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 1, in the auditorium of Altgeld Hall.