After the July resignation of NIU Convocation Center Director John Gordon and retirement of Robert Albanese, Associate Vice President for Facilities & Operations, Executive Vice President & Chief of Operations Eddie Williams announced a major reorganization within the division.
On July 31, NIU announced the appointment of Norm Jenkins as acting director of the Convocation Center after John Gordon submitted his resignation on July 20, effective immediately. The equivalent of three months’ salary as well as a maximum of six months of COBRA benefits will be provided Mr. Gordon according to the terms of his resignation.
Robert Albanese also submitted his resignation on July 19, effective July 31. His personal decision to retire is a function of his longstanding participation in the State Universities Retirement System (SURS).
In both cases, the university acknowledges that there were separate, independent allegations against Mr. Gordon and Mr. Albanese that were administratively investigated and that the matter is subject to further investigation. At the time of their resignations, there was no evidence that the allegations against them were related to each other.
Given the due process rights of every employee, the many steps associated with the university’s grievance process and the interests of employees who may have or who may wish to come forward, the decision was made that the university was best served by taking quick action. The university is now able to move forward with a complete reorganization and restructuring currently under way within Finance and Facilities.
“The Board of Trustees has been fully briefed as to this matter and is confident that the university is proceeding in a responsible and thorough manner,” Chair Cherilyn G. Murer stated.
Kathryn Buettner, Vice President for University Relations, expressed frustration on behalf of the university regarding NIU’s inability to comment on many of the questions related to the allegations due to employee privacy laws in place at the federal and state levels.
“I want to remind the university community that allegations are just that—allegations—and until an adjudicatory process has been completed that provides all parties the opportunity to make their case, findings of fact are not determined,” Buettner cautioned.
NIU announced further administrative changes August 2, following Albanese’s retirement. As part of that reorganization, assistant vice president Jeffrey Daurer was tasked to oversee the Physical Plant, including the Grounds Department and the Campus Heating Plant; vice president for administration Steven Cunningham was given oversight responsibility for the Office of the Controller, the Accounting Office and operation of the Holmes Student Center in addition to his current responsibilities; and Bill Nicklas, associate vice president for university planning and sustainability, was named acting supervisor of Building Services.
Williams added oversight of the remainder of the units Albanese supervised to his other duties as part of the reorganization.
“The university has no plans to fill the position vacated by Mr. Albanese,” said Williams, noting the abilities of those appointed to serve for the coming year. “The individuals that graciously agreed to serve in these capacities are extremely talented and experienced and operate with the utmost integrity. They have been given the authority and requested to thoroughly evaluate their new areas of responsibility, and where necessary, take the required steps to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the delivery of services.”
Nicklas, a former city manager, brings 25 years of public administrative experience to his new supervisory duties.
“I am already conducting an objective, thorough evaluation of the Building Services operation as any good manager would do,” Nicklas said. “Of course, I am working closely with our staff to provide the efficient delivery of services and materials across the university, and I have been empowered and requested to make changes that I believe are in the best interest of the university in that regard.”