University Center of Lake County names new executive director

University Center of Lake County Names New Executive Director
Updated 1/17/2019 12:16 PM

The University Center of Lake County has named Joel Williams as the executive director who will succeed G. Gary Grace when Grace retires March 31.

Williams will begin work at the University Center on March 18 to ensure a smooth transition as the center's founding executive director retires. He is currently serving as the executive director of PADS Lake County, a role he has held since January of 2013.

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Previously, he spent six years working for Lake County government in various roles within the Planning, Building and Development Department. He has also served as a part-time political science faculty member for Elmhurst College, one of the center's 18 member institutions.

"We were impressed by the strong pool of candidates who came forward when we announced the job opening and were pleased to select Joel Williams as Gary's successor," said Matthew J. Hlinak, chair of the University Center's Governing Board

"His experience as an executive director of a small, nonprofit organization, coupled with deep ties within Lake County and his enthusiasm for the center's mission, have positioned him well to help the board chart the next steps in the center's evolution," Hlinak said.

"He will inherit a well-organized administrative structure and a strong staff through the efforts of Gary Grace, and I am confident that he will bring creativity and new energy to the challenges of making the center more widely-known and financially sound."


The University Center of Lake County is a partnership of eight public universities and 10 private not-for-profit colleges and universities that collaborate to provide higher education to those living or working in or near Lake County. It builds on the offerings of Illinois community colleges by providing transfer programs leading to 45 bachelor's degrees, as well as 45 graduate degrees and an equal number of certificates.

These programs are available through evening, weekend or online study so that students can remain living and working in Lake County as they complete their education. The University Center's Grayslake facility also supports workforce development efforts in the region by doubling as a conference center for corporate meetings and training.

The University Center was created by the Illinois Board of Higher Education in the late 1990s and became an independent 501(c)(3) organization in 2001.

For more information, visit or, or call (847) 665-4000.

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