Office of the President

July 31, 2023

Dear William Paterson Faculty and Staff,

With less than one month until the start of the Fall 2023 semester, I want to update everyone on a change to the academic calendar. Due to the recent scheduling of Homecoming for Saturday, Oct. 21, our Wellness Days have been moved up one week, to Oct. 12-13, from Oct. 19-20. This change is reflected on the updated Academic Calendar. Like last year, the University will be open, but no classes will be held on Wellness Days. Wellness Day programming for faculty and staff will take place on Oct. 12, with more information to come once the semester is underway. This has also been updated on the Academic Calendar. We ask that faculty please make these updates to course syllabi.

Please know that I am aware that these calendar changes, along with recent changes regarding Welcome Day, may have created hardships for faculty who have planned their courses well in advance of the start of the semester. As some of you may know, we recently changed from an annual plan of the academic calendar to planning for consecutive years with the hope that long-term planning will provide a sense of stability on which faculty and students can rely. 

However, I recognize that changes in practice or conflicts that are brought to light after the calendar is published can cause disruption and require people to rework courses or change plans. Unfortunately, we realized too late that Wellness Days coincided with Homecoming, a conflict which required us to reschedule them so that the entire WP community can get the most out of them. The addition of Welcome Day created similar challenges. While I am confident that these changes will be worthwhile, I do apologize for the inconvenience, and we endeavor to be better in anticipating scheduling conflicts going forward and will of course consult with the AFT.

As you know, we launched a search for a new Chief Diversity Officer last Spring. While this process generated interest, in the end two qualified candidates withdrew from our finalist pool, which precluded me from extending an offer. I am keenly aware that our search is taking place in a national environment in which DEI programs in many places are under assault, being eliminated and legislated against. This only strengthens our commitment to advancing these important initiatives at William Paterson and ensuring that we find the right individual to lead these efforts. Therefore, I have decided to extend the search with the hope of conducting another round of interviews and campus visits during the next couple of months, with the goal of having the position filled sometime in the Fall semester. I want to thank everyone involved with the search so far for their time and good work.

Turning to enrollment and retention, our total enrollment is currently 21.3% away from goal, versus 23.3% last year at this time. Our main campus continuing enrollment is 9.2% from goal, which is consistent with last year. Continuing WP Online enrollment is 11.2% away from goal, versus 21.5% away from goal last year. First-year enrollment continues to trend well with 938 deposits, which is 104.2% of goal, and 873 students enrolled to date for the Fall semester. Main campus retention is up 1% over last year at this time. 

A revised form for requesting my presence in campus events has been posted on my website. Please use it if you would like me to speak at, attend, or otherwise participate in an event that your office is hosting. I try to honor as many requests as my schedule allows, and by completing this new online form, you will help my office staff ensure that we all have the necessary information and sufficient notice to facilitate my involvement with your event. Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

This week’s WPWe are Proud – As the world remembered the great Tony Bennett on his passing last week at 96 and celebrated his remarkable career, many news outlets turned for perspective to one his great friends and collaborators, our own Bill Charlap, director of Jazz Studies. In one interview, on CNN, Bill recounted his first meeting with his “hero”, which led to a decades-long friendship and a shared Grammy for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for “The Silver Lining: The Songs of Jerome Kern,” on which he played piano. Asked by host Kaitlin Collins what came to mind as he watched a video of his performance with Bennett of “The Way You Look Tonight,” Bill said: “It’s not just iconic, it’s definitive. And that’s what he wanted to do. When he sang something, he wanted it to be definitive. He put his stamp on it in that way. It was so warm, and so soulful. That’s what Tony Bennett was.”

A reminder that there are just two summer Fridays left (August 4 and 11) before we return to our normal, five-day schedule. That means all employees will return to their remote day(s) schedule observed during the Fall and Spring semesters, effective the week of August 14. As a reminder, remote opportunities are based on operational need, and employees may be required to physically be on campus on a remote day if needed, as determined by their supervisor.   

I hope you make the most of the remaining days of summer and have a great week.


Richard J. Helldobler, Ph.D.
Office of the President | 973.720.2222 |