Kish College honors Dr. Bill Nicklas with John C. Roberts Community Service Award

Dr. Bill Nicklas was awarded the John C. Roberts Community Service Award on Saturday at Kishwaukee College’s Spring 2024 Commencement Ceremony. Pictured (left to right) are Dr. Laurie Borowicz, President of Kishwaukee College; Dr. Bill Nicklas; Frank Roberts, son of the late John Roberts; and Bob Johnson, Board Chair.

Dr. Bill Nicklas has dedicated nearly 40 years of his professional career to improving the local community through work in municipal government and higher education. Kishwaukee College recognized Dr. Nicklas and his career with the John C. Roberts Community Service Award on Saturday at Kish’s Spring 2024 Commencement Ceremony.

Established in 2009, the John C. Roberts Community Service Award recognizes the importance of community members in the success of Kishwaukee College. Dr. Nicklas currently serves as the City Manager of DeKalb, one of many roles in a long career in public service. Kathleen Spears, Kishwaukee College Board of Trustees Secretary, presented the award to Dr. Nicklas at the ceremony.

“With unwavering dedication to improving our region, Dr. Nicklas has provided long-term influence to create a better future for our community. His work embodies the spirit John Roberts showed when establishing Kishwaukee College, making Dr. Nicklas a deserving recipient of the 2024 John C. Roberts Community Service Award,” Spears said.

After earning master’s and doctoral degrees from Northern Illinois University (NIU), Dr. Nicklas began working in local government in 1986. He was appointed DeKalb’s City Manager in 1992, where he worked until taking the role of Sycamore’s City Manager from 1998-2011. Dr. Nicklas later held various positions in public education, including Vice President roles at NIU from 2011-2014 and as the Special Assistant to the President at Kishwaukee College from 2016-2018. In January 2019, he returned to the DeKalb City Manager role, where he continues to serve today. 

Dr. Nicklas’s leadership has helped drive economic growth for the Kish district over the past four decades, including infrastructure improvements at NIU and impactful economic developments for companies like Facebook, Kraft Heinz, Ferrara Candy and Amazon. At Kish, Dr. Nicklas was imperative in building relationships with local businesses and helping strengthen the College as a community resource.

As a volunteer, Dr. Nicklas served as the long-term recovery coordinator for the Fairdale community after it was devastated by a tornado in April 2015. He has served on many local organizations and foundations, including the Kishwaukee College Foundation. Through the Foundation, Dr. Nicklas created a scholarship honoring his late wife, Joyce A. Nicklas, which supports scholarships for Kish nursing students.

Dr. Nicklas’s career-long dedication to improving the local community has had a profound impact on the Kishwaukee College district. To learn more about the John C. Roberts Community Service Award, visit