Section 8 Housing Probe
5:47 pm
Fri March 8, 2013

NIU VP Williams On Leave Following FBI Search

A top administrator at Northern Illinois University is now on paid leave. The move involving Eddie Williams is related to the search of the campus police department by federal authorities this week. 

Late Friday afternoon, NIU officials announced that Williams, who serves as chief of operations and executive vice president of Finance & Facilities, will be taking a leave of absence. University spokesman Paul Palian says it was a mutual decision between Williams and NIU President John Peters:

 “According to President Peters, this leave will take place until the resolution of the investigation.”

On Wednesday, the FBI removed items from the campus police department as part of a criminal investigation that involved the U.S. Department of Housing.

William’s private company, Eden’s Gardens, which provides affordable housing, was named in the search warrant. Chris Robling, a spokesman for Williams’ attorney, issued this statement:

“Dr. Williams is cooperating fully with the authorities and Eden’s Gardens has provided all materials requested, but Dr. Williams has no idea why he or the project is the subject of any government interest.”

Eden’s Garden and Eden’s Garden Phase II are two of seven low-income housing developments listed in a federal Housing and Urban Development database.  Eden’s Garden has 92 housing units, all of which are low-income. Phase II is 88 total units, with 48 listed as low-income. They’re located west of Annie Glidden Road, near the NIU campus. A low-income housing database shows Eden’s Garden is owned by Eden’s Garden Development Group, Inc., with an E.R. Williams listed as the contact, along with a DeKalb phone number. The same database, however, shows Phase II is owned by Eden’s Garden Limited Partnership, with an Eddie Williams as the contact: the contact phone number is the NIU campus number for Williams and his assistant. 

Williams has served at NIU for 42 years. Steve Cunningham, who is vice president of administration and human resource services, will take over Williams’ duties for the time being.

Here's the full text of the NIU release regarding Williams' leave of absence. It originated from NIU's Media Relations department:

In light of recent events, Northern Illinois University President John G. Peters and Eddie Williams, NIU chief of operations and executive vice president of Finance & Facilities, today announced that Dr. Williams will take a leave of absence from his university duties.

“Dr. Williams has been integral to our success, and we have the highest regard for his 42-year commitment to Northern Illinois University,” President Peters said.

“Dr. Williams and I have conferred and agree that because he oversees a broad range of administrative matters he will take this step until resolution of the investigation to avoid any appearance of conflict or any question concerning the university’s response to this matter,” Peters added.

“I appreciate the president’s understanding as much as I treasure my association with NIU,” Dr. Williams said.  “I look forward to the complete resolution of the current investigation and returning to my post.”

 

The following is a statement sent to WNIJ from a public relations firm representing Williams' attorney, William G. Sullivan of Chicago:

“Dr. Eddie Williams has served Northern Illinois University for over 40 years in positions of increasing responsibility.  He is currently Executive Vice President for Administration and has served in that position for more than 12 years.  Dr. Williams was an associate professor of mathematics before entering the administration and earned his Ph.D. from Columbia University. 

“Separate from his university duties, Dr. Williams has  developed affordable housing resources in the DeKalb community.  Eden’s Gardens, a privately funded, two-phase project, is not affiliated in any way with Northern Illinois University, and it does not provide student housing.  Its sole purpose is to meet the housing needs of those in the community with limited financial resources.  Prospective Eden’s Gardens resident screening has been conducted for more than five years by Screening Reports Inc., a national provider of background screening service to the multi-family housing industry. 

“Dr. Williams is cooperating fully with the authorities and Eden’s Gardens has provided all materials requested, but Dr. Williams has no idea why he or the project is the subject of any government interest.”