NIU remembers William Monat, former NIU president and visionary

William Monat

Former NIU president William Monat died Saturday in Jupiter, Florida. He was 92.

Monat, who joined NIU in 1969 as a professor of political science, served as the university’s eighth president from 1978 to 1984. Under Monat’s leadership, doctoral programs in education, geology, biological sciences and mathematical sciences were added at NIU, and in 1979, the university opened the College of Law.

“All of NIU is saddened by the passing of William Monat,” NIU Acting President Lisa Freeman said. “His contributions to the creation of the NIU College of Law and the College of Engineering and Engineering Technology helped cement the reputation of NIU as a well-rounded university prepared to meet the needs of our region.”

Freeman called Monat a “visionary whose impact can be felt to this day.”

NIU President Emeritus John Peters shared the sentiment, calling Monat “an incredibly important individual in the development of Northern Illinois University.”

William Monat’s inauguration

“Under his tenure we had a tremendous expansion, not only of the size of the institution but also the spread of academic programs,” Peters said. “He is responsible for transforming NIU into the impressive research university that we are today. We owe that to Bill Monat.”

Monat was retired when Peters took the helm as NIU’s 11th president in 2000, but he was a source of inspiration and support in many ways, Peters said.

“I could call on him for advice on many an issue,” Peters said. “He was so wise and had seen so much.”

Along with being a well-respected professor at NIU, Monat taught at Wayne State University, Penn State University and the City University of New York. He left NIU in 1984 to become the first chancellor of the Regency Universities System of Illinois, and returned to NIU in 1986 to teach public administration until his retirement in 1992.

“On a personal level, he was a gentleman of the old school and a very kind man,” Peters said. “In my view, he is a very important figure in the history of NIU.”

A service and burial will be held at 1:15 p.m. Friday at the South Florida National Cemetery in Lake Worth, Fla. Aycock-Riverside Funeral and Cremation Center in Jupiter, Fla. is handling arrangements.

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