A Northern Illinois University vice president who has been part of a federal law enforcement investigation returned to campus today after a two-month paid leave.
Eddie Williams, the university’s chief of operations and one of the campus's most powerful figures, plans to retire soon. Until then, he will assist campus administrators in the areas of budgeting and finance, according to a news release from the university. Williams, who has worked at the DeKalb university for more than 40 years, oversaw everything from the budget to human resources and building operations.
"I value Dr. Williams' experience and expertise; he has been a key member of my senior administrative team," said NIU President John Peters, who will retire at the end of June, in a statement. "Dr. Williams, a member of the NIU community for 42 years, is highly respected for his budget expertise and his many contributions to university operations."
Williams' leave of absence from the university began March 8 when FBI agents executed a search warrant that indicated they were investigating whether Williams used campus law enforcement to respond to reported crimes at a low-income housing development he owns near the school, and to perform background checks on prospective renters there.
The warrant also sought communications between Williams and former NIU police Chief Donald Grady regarding Eden's Garden, a subsidized housing development owned by Williams. Grady was fired from the university in February.
Federal agents also sought records from the Eden's Garden's management office. Williams' attorney has said his client did not use campus police for private security needs.
Peters in March said that Williams would take a leave of absence to avoid any appearance of a conflict as the university responded to investigators.
Federal authorities have said that the search stemmed from an ongoing grand jury investigation. In addition to the FBI and the Illinois State Police, the inspector general offices of the U.S. departments of Education and Housing and Urban Development are participating in the ongoing probe.
According to Friday's news release, Williams, 68, had been planning to announce his retirement prior to the federal investigation. Peters had named an acting executive vice president in Williams' absence, and that individual will continue in the role. Williams will maintain his executive vice president title as he provides assistance.