Office of the President

June 5, 2023

Dear William Paterson Faculty and Staff,

Congratulations on a successful 2023 Commencement, the 200th in the proud history of William Paterson University! The stars of the two May 18 graduate ceremonies and last week’s undergraduate ceremony were, of course, our wonderful graduates. As I reminded them, however, no one gets there without the help of others, and that includes each and every member of the William Paterson faculty and staff. In one way or another – and often in many different ways – you have all played a part in supporting and educating our graduates, who will now use their new degrees to do great things. 

A special thanks to everyone involved in the long, hard work of planning and executing three great events, as well as everyone who was involved by either participating in the ceremonies or volunteering to help make sure they went smoothly. It all begins with our Commencement Committee, under the leadership of Associate Vice President for Student Development Francisco Diaz, and including: Michele Martin and Kaitlin Howarth from Student Development; Loretta Mc Laughlin Vignier and Amanda Oleski, from my office; Sandra Hill from the Provost’s office; Patrick Ryan from IRT; Mary Beth Zeman from Marketing and Public Relations; Emily Plaskow from the Registrar’s office; Laurie Nyulassy and Vlad Pichardo from IT; and John Sullivan from Institutional Advancement. In addition, many other staff members from Physical Plant OperationsUniversity PoliceAthletics and RecreationITIRTMarketing and Public Relations, the Registrar’s office and the Campus Bookstore provided critical operational support for these complex events with lots of moving parts.

The success of these ceremonies was evident in the smiles of our graduates, the whoops and cheers of their families and friends, and the all-around joy of everyone in the Rec Center and the Prudential Center. Check out the WP website and the official social media accounts featured at the bottom of the homepage for Marketing and Public Relations’ great coverage. It’s also noteworthy that Governor Murphy’s aides – who help coordinate his participation in many Commencement ceremonies – made a point of telling us how well organized our May 31 ceremony was. More importantly, the graduates and their guests were very complimentary. It was evident to everyone how much care and commitment went in to all our ceremonies. Thank you for making one of the most important days in the lives of our graduates and their families truly memorable!

Turning from our 2023 graduates to an enrollment update regarding our future ones, the freshmen applicant pool is currently 8.5% larger than at this time last year, which has resulted in an increase of more than 11% in the number of offers of admission made, with a nearly 2.7% bump in deposits paid, year-over-year. Transfer student offers of acceptance are up 24.3%, with deposits up 52.8%, and enrollment up 22.3% over last year. The Enrollment Management team is optimistic about the Fall class and is working hard with departments throughout campus to support our new students and their families. Graduate applications are up 7.1%, with a 22.4% increase in the number of admissions offer made. New graduate student enrollment is up 17.6% over this time last year. 

The Division of Enrollment Management is also leveraging a $25,703 mini-grant from the N.J. Office of the Secretary of Higher Education, in partnership with ReUp Education, to engage with ‘Some College, No Degree’ (SCND) students this summer to encourage them to return to WP and complete their degree.

In other news, William Paterson was recently named a “Healthcare Hero” by NJBIZ. The NJBIZ Healthcare Heroes awards program “was created to recognize excellence, promote innovation and honor the efforts of individuals and organizations making a significant impact on the quality of health care in New Jersey.” The award was based on nominations, which were reviewed by a panel of independent judges, and recognizes individuals and organizations across 12 categories. It is a testament to the great work being done throughout WP and our College of Science and Health in preparing the nurses and other healthcare professionals who are in great need throughout New Jersey.

Congratulations to Dr. Wartyna Davis, Dean of the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, on being selected to participate in the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) Millennium Leadership Initiative. The prestigious MLI is “designed to diversify and enrich the American college presidency” and recruits and prepares Black, Hispanic, Latino, Asian, Indigenous, LGBTQ, and women leaders from senior-level positions in higher education who aspire to be campus presidents or chancellors. Dean Davis will take her place in an impressive cohort of senior leaders from public colleges and universities across the country.

A reminder to please register for the Summer 2023 Learning and Development Program. This year’s theme, as detailed in the May 30 email from WP Learning & Development, is “Managing a Growth Mindset through Process Improvement,” which includes four focus areas: Business Process Improvement – Workday; Accountability – Goal Setting; Leadership – Focus and Application; and Process Improvement – Technological Savvy. The first in the series of Wednesday events takes place in Shea on June 28. The rest take place online, with the final one on August 9. I hope we can all take advantage of this program to learn and develop fresh ideas and ways of approaching our work in the coming year.  

I have accepted the Asian Middle Eastern North African (AMENA) Task Force Final Report, which can be found on my website, and I want to thank task force co-chairs Dr. Rajender Kaur and Dr. Keumjae Parkand members Dr. Bahar AshnaiManmeet Kohli, alumnus Aroob Abdelaziz ’21, and current students Hanifa Ahmed and Daniel Youn for their good work. The report provides a productive assessment of the needs and obstacles faced by WP’s AMENA population of faculty, staff, and students; includes a list of benchmarks that the university should consider when measuring success with students and staff of this population; and identifies and recommends successful programs and initiatives that the university should consider to improve student success for AMENA-identified students, faculty, and staff. It will serve as a key resource for our work in strengthening support for this population moving forward.

This week’s WPWe are Proud – Congratulations, once again, to the graduates of the William Paterson University Class of 2023 and to everyone who educated and supported them along the way to earning their degrees! Together, our graduates represent the greatest example of Will. Power. anywhere.

Thank you all for a great year, and I wish you the best for a productive and relaxing summer.


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