Hillard Brings Decades of Experience to Manager Post

Lucy Haskell

After almost 10 months and two rounds of recruitment, City Council unanimously approved the appointment of Rob Hillard as Oberlin city manager last Thursday. Pending contract negotiations, Mr. Hill- ard will come to Oberlin with more than two decades of experience in local govern- ment in Allegan, MI and Yellow Springs, Ohio.

Oberlin City Council Vice President Linda Slocum cited his experience in Ohio, particularly his time working in Yellow Springs, the home of liberal arts school Antioch College, as a factor that gave Hillard an edge.

“I think [Oberlin] will be a good fit for him and the council did too,” Slocum said. Hillard’s appointment follows 10 months of interim leadership from fi-

nance director Sal Talarico. Hillard made a 10-minute presentation to the council on a topic of his choosing and went through an hour-long interview before being approved. There is no word on how long council negotiations will take before the post can be made official.

Hillard left his previous position in Al- legan in July, after serving as city manager for 10 years. The Allegan City Council ap- proved his resignation with two dissent- ing votes.

According to Allegan Mayor Nancy Ingalsbee, who has known Hillard since 2003, his resignation was not surprising considering how long he had stayed in Allegan.

“When you have been somewhere for 10 years in this job I think the challenges were just gone,” Ingalsbee said. “He felt it was time to leave, and we understood that.”

Ingalsbee was complimentary of Hillard’s work in Allegan.

“He was not sitting in his office all the time, he was out meeting people, going to events,” she added.

She specifically mentioned his community engagement and foresight. Before the recession hit, Hillard secured grant funding to install a state-of-the-art water-treatment plant and upgrades to the sewer system.

Hillard said that his experience with grant applications qualified him for the position here in Oberlin.

Both of the cities Hillard worked for previously share similarities with Oberlin. Allegan, like Oberlin, has a single major employer: the over-the-counter pharmacuetical company Perrigo. After serving as village manager in Yellow Springs and working with Antioch College, Hillard said he thinks he is well prepared to handle the

challenges of working in a college town. “They interact with the community, it appears, similarly to what Oberlin College does with the city of Oberlin,” Hillard said. “Colleges can be very dynamic from an administrative perspective, as well as from a student interaction perspective.”

Hillard added that he believed his collaborative style of leadership is a good fit for Oberlin. Pending the completion of contract negotiations, Hillard said he is excited to become part of the Oberlin community, noting the city’s emphasis on environmental sustainability and the Climate Action Plan.

“The dynamic Oberlin offers is tremendous,” Hillard said. “Oberlin has really stressed environmental sustainability as a core belief, so I believe that in itself allows it to stand out, and I am excited to implement the plans in partnership with the city council.”