Richard L. Escalante
B.A. Political Science, 1974
M.A. Political Science/Public Administration, 1978
Mr. Richard Escalante knows the meaning of hard work. As NIU Professor Emeritus James Banovetz notes, “The story of [Richard’s] rise to national prominence as a professional public administrator, serving with unusual distinction both as a city and a university administrative officer, would not be complete without a brief description of the starting point of his illustrious career.”
Mr. Escalante transferred to NIU in 1970 from Thornton Community College. He financed his education as: a laborer at Republic Steel and Inland Steel Corporation; a garbage collector in Calumet City; and a tutor. In 1972, he interned in Washington, D.C. in the office of U.S. Senator Adlai Stevenson, who wrote, “He is very thorough and did an excellent job of researching subjects…[including rural development and welfare legislation].”
In graduate school, Mr. Escalante served as an intern in DeKalb’s City Manager office. The City subsequently hired him as a full-time administrative assistant. He earned his M.A. in Public Administration in 1978.
For the next twenty-five years, Mr. Escalante worked in various administrative roles in cities across the country. In Farmers Branch, Texas, he designed and successfully proposed a Tax Dividend Program. Tax monies collected but not needed for current fiscal obligations are returned to taxpayers. Mr. Escalante was the first government official at any level in the U.S. to accomplish this type of action, and his program was named one of the nation’s top twenty innovative programs in state and local government by the American Government Award Program sponsored by Harvard University and the Ford Foundation.
While serving as the city manager of Moundsville, West Virginia, Mr. Escalante developed an expertise in international trade matters. He expanded his international experience through the years advising government officials in Serbia, Japan, and Germany on local government issues.
In his current position as a Vice Chancellor of the University of North Texas System, he is responsible for master planning and construction of physical facilities in a multi-university system enrolling more than 37,000 students. Three buildings planned under his leadership have been awarded LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold Certification. In addition, he coordinated the study and initiated a plan that will transform campus information technology services from separate campus systems to a system-wide shared service model. From his days at NIU to the present, Mr. Escalante continues to be an outstanding role model for students interested in public service.