Executive Bios

Dr. Ehab Kamarah, Associate Vice Chancellor and Executive Director of Facilities & Services

Dr. Ehab Kamarah is the associate vice chancellor and executive director of Facilities & Services. Before becoming AVCED in June 2022, Dr. Kamarah served as the director of the Capital Programs division at F&S, where he was responsible for the Capital Planning, Project Management, Space Planning, Deferred Maintenance, Transportation Planning, and Contract Administration departments to plan, design, procure, and construct the university’s capital and renewal programs in excess of $600M. Previously, Kamarah was the director of Facilities Development and Engineering Services at York University, and director of Design and Construction at McMaster University where he led teams of project directors, project managers, architects, engineers, space planners, and procurement specialists to develop and implement major capital, infrastructure renewal, and energy management programs. Kamarah has a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from Ryerson University, master’s, and Ph.D. in Construction Management from University of Waterloo, and is a registered Professional Engineer in Ontario, Canada.

Jim Sims, Director of Engineering & Small Construction Services

Jim Sims oversees Campus Code Compliance & Fire Safety, Construction Services, Engineering Design, Engineering Quality Assurance, Facilities Information Resources, and Transportation Demand Management.

Prior to assuming his current role, Sims served as a planner/engineer and interim senior planner within F&S’ Capital Programs division. Before joining the university in 2012, Sims worked as a structural engineer at Thornton-Tomasetti in Chicago as well as led the Structural Engineering Division at HDC Engineering /MSA Professional Engineers in Champaign.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and mechanical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a master’s degree in civil engineering (structures) from the University of Notre Dame. Sims is a Licensed Structural Engineer, a Licensed Professional Engineer, and a LEED accredited professional.

Malikah Gordon, Associate Director of Customer Relations & Communications

Malikah Gordon brings more than 15 years of customer relations operations and overall corporate-level communications experience to the role.

Gordon started with F&S in February 2019 as the manager of customer relations. From January 2020 to present, she has served as both the acting associate director and manager of customer relations for CRC.

Prior to joining F&S, Gordon worked as the assistant director of member services at Campus Recreation. As the assistant director, she supervised and managed the frontline staff between two facilities, oversaw and managed the unit’s customer relations operations, and coordinated marketing and account service functions to facilitate effective professional communications for member services. Gordon was also responsible for proofreading and editing content for all member services print and digital publications, while working with graphic designers and colleagues in the development of revised and new print materials for member services.

Among other achievements, Gordon was instrumental in the publication of F&S’ first strategic plan, the development and expansion of F&S’ customer contact listserv, establishing a schedule for CRC’s internal and external publications, and developing an omnichannel customer experience for environmental graphic design projects.

Gordon holds a master’s degree in translation and interpreting studies from the U of I and a Bachelor of Arts from Eastern Illinois University. She is an associate member of the American Translators Association and a student member of the Midwest Association of Translators and Interpreters.

Gordon brings a unique set of skills to this position, having nearly 20 years’ experience working in high customer–volume environments in both public-facing and university settings. 

Morgan White, Associate Director of Sustainability / Interim Director of Capital Programs

Morgan White is the Interim Director for Capital Programs and the Associate Director of Facilities & Services for Sustainability, at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. In 2007, White became the first Transportation Demand Management coordinator and was tasked with encouraging active transportation modes and enhancing pedestrian safety. When the university adopted the Illinois Climate Action Plan (iCAP) in 2010, she was given the additional responsibility for sustainability. In 2012, the transportation responsibilities transitioned to another staff member, and White is now focused 100% on campus sustainability.

White is the liaison for Facilities & Services with the Institute for Sustainability, Energy and the Environment (iSEE), students, faculty, administrators, and the community. She is an ex-officio advisory member to the Student Sustainability Committee, which allocates more than $1M each academic year toward campus sustainability projects. White assisted in the development of the Campus Bike Center, the Tree Campus USA and Bee Campus USA designations, and the first and second Solar Farms. Additionally, she represents the campus in the regional sustainability green team and with the Big Ten and Friends Sustainability Group.

White graduated with honors from the University of Illinois as a Chancellor’s Scholar in the Civil and Environmental Engineering department, with an emphasis on geotechnical engineering. She also earned a master’s degree in Urban Planning from the University of Illinois. 

Robert Roman, Director of Utilities & Energy Services

Robert Roman brings more than 30 years of industry and higher education experience to the role of director of Utilities & Energy Services. Roman leads all aspects of the utilities production and distribution, energy management and conservation measures, temperature controls systems, energy performance contracting, and business operations. 

Roman came to F&S from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), where he has served in a similar capacity since 2012. At UIC, Roman managed the planning, budgeting, operation, engineering, and maintenance of co-generation power plants, chilled water plants, and utilities distribution systems for both the west and east campuses. Among other achievements, he implemented a resource maintenance plan and established a maintenance management system for cost accounting and work management process improvements. He also developed an Energy Reduction Task Force as part of strategic initiatives to support greenhouse gas reduction efforts. 

During this period, Roman acted as the vice president of Prairieland Energy, Inc. (PEI), the corporation solely owned by the University of Illinois Board of Trustees. His responsibilities at PEI included overseeing UIC energy purchasing, as well as researching, documenting, and presenting energy saving initiatives to campus administration. 

This will be his second stretch on the Urbana campus. From 2006 to 2012, Robert worked as the chief utility plant operating engineer at Abbott Power Plant, and then as director of resources for Utilities Administration, providing project planning support for the University of Illinois System and acting as a legislative affairs liaison for utilities infrastructure and investment matters. 

Roman holds a master’s degree in business administration and a bachelor of science from the University of St. Francis in Joliet. He has previously served as the president of the Illinois APPA chapter and the Chicago Energy Economists. In different capacities, he has also worked for ComEd, Dynegy, and Ross Township and Road District, and he was the owner/general manager of Total Maintenance Services, which provided consulting and sales to utility and industrial companies.

Jenny Watkins, Director of Shared Administrative Services

Jenny Watkins is the director of Shared Administrative Services and oversees administrative and managerial support for planning, budgeting, and financial resources for Facilities & Services departments and divisions, including Financial Operations, Information Technology Services, Procurement Services, and Stores & Receiving. 

Watkins holds a bachelor’s degree in accountancy from Eastern Illinois University and is a Certified Public Accountant in the State of Illinois. Before joining Facilities & Services in November 2013, she worked at the Archer-Daniels-Midland Company for 16 years. She is a member of the Business Manager’s Group (BMG) on campus and has previously served on the Business Affairs Committee for the BMG. 

Jeremy Neighbors, Director of Safety and Compliance

Jeremy Neighbors started with F&S in 2008 after six years in civil and environmental consulting in the private sector. At F&S, he has held multiple positions, most recently as the associate director for Safety and Compliance, Occupational Safety & Health. In this role, he was responsible for overseeing occupational safety and health management programs and policies, including developing and providing various consultation and training resources. 

Neighbors is a licensed professional engineer in Illinois, as well as a Certified Safety Professional with licenses and certifications for asbestos, lead, and hazardous waste operations and emergency response. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the U of I in civil engineering and a master’s of business administration from the University of Illinois Springfield. 

Dave Boehm, Director of Building Maintenance & Grounds

Dave Boehm brings almost 40 years of industry and higher education experience to this role. He has a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Illinois Springfield and a bachelor’s degree from St. Petersburg College in technology management. Before joining F&S in August 2015 as the director of Building Maintenance, he was an assistant director in facilities for University Housing for eight years. Boehm also spent nearly 30 years in public sector higher education as a maintenance mechanic, maintenance supervisor, and director of facilities services before coming to the university.

Boehm is an American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) member, where he helped develop the ANSI/ASHRAE/ACCA Standard 180, which is standard practice for inspection and maintenance of commercial building HVAC systems. Additionally, he has been active in APPA for over 25 years and is an APPA Certified Educational Facility Professional.  

Pete Varney, Director of Building Services & Transportation

Pete Varney began his career as a student employee with the F&S Garage & Car Pool in 1991. Since then, Varney earned his bachelor’s degree from the U of I in economics, became transportation manager, was named associate director of Customer Relations & Communications, and in 2006, became associate director of Transportation & Automotive Services.

In this role, he will continue to bring sustainable options to existing services and focus on relationship building within F&S and partnering with campus customers to achieve strategic goals. Varney is a National Association of Fleet Administrators (NAFA) certified fleet manager and founding member of the NAFA Sustainable Fleet program. He also initiated a robust tracking system for waste generation and recycling collection and implemented green cleaning into Building Services departmental operations. Pete was a sergeant in the U.S. Army and Illinois National Guard.

Eric Smith, Director of Human Resources, Diversity & Strategy

Eric Smith became F&S’ first director of human resources, diversity, and strategy in 2019. Previously, Smith was a special assistant to the executive director for personnel resources, diversity & talent development. In that time, Eric helped establish systems and procedures that foster an environment of respect, collaboration, and teamwork within F&S.

Smith’s career in human resources includes experience in employment, EEO/Affirmative Action, diversity, labor and employee relations, training and development, policy development, and HR information management. He holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in business administration, both from Illinois State University. He is also earned Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) certification.