Office of the President

May 1, 2023

Dear William Paterson Faculty and Staff,

It is the first day of May, and by the last day of the month, we will have wrapped up the Spring semester and the 2022-23 academic year and graduated nearly 2,000 WP Pioneers in three ceremonies on campus and at the Prudential Center. Needless to say, it will be a very busy month, as this message reflects.

Speaking of Commencement, I am pleased to announce that at the undergraduate ceremony on May 31, I will present the President’s Medallion, the highest honor available at William Paterson, to Dr. Jill Guzman, director of the Counseling Health and Wellness Center. The President’s Medallion is awarded to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the University community, and who provide a positive role model through their outstanding service. I can think of no more deserving example over the past several years than Dr. Guzman. 

Starting even before COVID-19 was officially declared a pandemic, Dr. Guzman has worked tirelessly to lead our campus’s response with a strong dedication to keeping our community safe. Thanks to her sound leadership – in partnership with me and the Cabinet and always informed by the best available science and expert guidance – William Paterson fared much better than many other colleges and universities. This allowed us to safely return to campus and resume in-person learning much earlier than many other institutions, which directly benefited our students’ academic progress, as well as their social and emotional wellbeing. I look forward to presenting her with this well-deserved recognition later this month. 

I am pleased to share that funding for several important campus capital improvement and technology infrastructure projects has been recommended for legislative approval by the Office of the Secretary of Higher education, Dr. Brian K. Bridges. These funds are available for specific types of projects through a competitive call for proposals by the Educational Facilities Authority. Included in the Secretary’s recommendations are $40 million for the renovation and expansion of our Sports and Recreation Center; approximately $2.3 million for technology infrastructure and modernization, with a special focus on upgrading campus Wi-Fi; and $639,000 for adoption of the Workday enterprise management platform for use in many core campus operations.

The Sports and Recreation Center project will dramatically improve and expand key instructional resources, as well as sports and recreation facilities. It will include a two-story, 88,000 square-foot addition that will nearly triple the overall size of the building to accommodate a new Wellness Center and significant new classroom and lab space for Nursing, Kinesiology, and Movement Science programs, in addition to a new fitness center, natatorium, and locker rooms. Existing space will be renovated to create a new Training Room and Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation Instructional Lab. We expect to launch this major project in January 2024. These are exciting developments, and we expect the significant campus improvements to further aid our critical recruitment and retention efforts.

On Saturday, the Office of Admissions hosted its Spring Open House for 248 prospective students and their families. This group included a mix of transfer students, high school seniors on the verge of making their college choice, and high school students who are just beginning their college search. The event sealed the decision for some of the high school seniors, who deposited on the spot and will join us in the fall.

Looking more broadly at the first-year applicant pool for Fall 2023, it is 7.6% larger than last year, which has resulted in more than 11% additional offers of admission, and an 8.2% increase in the number of freshmen who have committed to WP for Fall 2023. The Enrollment Management team is optimistic about the Fall class and working hard with departments throughout campus to support our new students and their families. Graduate applications are up 6.1%, with a 24.4% increase in the number of admissions offers. Graduate student enrollment is up 32.5% over this time last year. These positive signs are the result of a lot of hard work across campus. More remains to be done to fill the incoming class and, of course, retain more of our current students.

A reminder that all faculty and staff are invited to attend a Workday Town Hall tomorrow, May 2, at 12:30 p.m. in the Library Auditorium, where you can learn about the University’s adoption of Workday as our new software system for human resources, payroll, and finance processes across campus. If you would like to submit questions ahead of time to have them answered during the presentation, please send them to [email protected].

As we continue to seek out opportunities for greater efficiencies and effectiveness across the University, I am pleased to announce that, effective today, the Office of International Students and Scholars will join the Office of International Admissions in the Division of Enrollment Management and Student Success, under the leadership of Vice President George F. Kacenga. This strategy aims to leverage economies of scale and grow our international student population. This move involves Director Cinzia Richardson and a graduate assistant, who will be welcome new additions to the Division. Study Abroad and National Student Exchange Programs will remain as part of the Office of Curriculum, Graduate and International Education, led by Associate Provost Jonathan M. Lincoln in the Office of the Provost. 

As we continue implementing our 2022-2025 Strategic Plan, I want to update you on one of its five pillars, Revising the Mission Statement. A draft revised Mission Statement was sent back to the committee charged with this pillar for member feedback. I found some of that feedback very valuable, but the draft hasn’t yet landed where I’d like it to be. In its current form, it is not, to my mind, unique nor bold enough to stand out and make a meaningful impact. Thus, I will not be submitting anything related to this pillar to the Board of Trustees in June, as initially planned. We will continue working on it with the goal of having a more finished product sometime next fall.

This week’s WPWe are Proud – Congratulations to all of the honorees and student, faculty, and staff performers at last week’s 32nd Annual Legacy Award Gala, where we celebrated the 50th Anniversary of our world-renowned Jazz Studies Program. The Honorees – former program Director Rufus Reid; James Terrile ’87; program founder, the late Dr. Martin Krivin; and WBGO, Newark Public Radio – are some of the key faculty, alumni, and community organizations that have been instrumental in the tremendous success of the program. It was a pleasure to recognize them as we raised money for student scholarships and were treated to a lot of great jazz, much of it courtesy of our talented jazz students (above), including many who are Legacy Scholars. Thank you to Vice President Pam Ferguson and her Institutional Advancement team for organizing another great event. 

Happy May!


Richard J. Helldobler, Ph.D.
Office of the President | 973.720.2222 | [email protected]