Office of the President

May 15, 2023

Dear William Paterson Faculty and Staff,

Congratulations on wrapping up the Spring semester! Over the next couple of weeks, we will celebrate our graduates at three separate ceremonies on campus and at the Prudential Center, which together will mark the 200th Commencement exercises in the history of William Paterson University. Commencement marks the culmination of years of hard work on the part of our students, as well as our dedicated faculty and staff, and we can all be proud.  

Looking ahead, the Fall semester will kick-off this year with “Welcome Day” on Tuesday, August 29th, one day before the official start and the first day of classes. Welcome Day will provide the campus community with an opportunity to formally greet our new fulltime students while also convening for departmental and college meetings, lunch, and my Fall State of the University Address. All faculty and staff are required to be on campus for the day, and I ask that if supervisors have not already granted vacation or leave requests for the 29th that they not do so from this point forward. There have been previous versions of a Welcome Day or University Day on campus, and this newly updated version will help us all start the 2023-24 academic year off on the right foot.

Also on the subject of the Fall semester, the freshmen applicant pool is currently 8.4% larger than last year, which has resulted in over 11.3% more offers of admission made, and a 6.1% increase in the number of freshmen who have committed to WP for Fall 2023. Transfer student offers of acceptance are up 23.2%, with deposits made to WP up 45.4% over last year. Graduate applications are up 7.1%, with a 25.2% increase in the number of admissions offer made. New graduate student enrollment is up 26.1% over this time last year. The Enrollment Management team and everyone who supports their work are to be commended on these numbers. They do provide reason for optimism. However, I want to caution everyone that the hard work of student retention remains a priority, and with smaller first year classes, continuing enrollment gains are paramount to getting back to level.

I recently shared with the members of the WP Council for Equity and Justice that after consultation with and feedback from both the Council and Cabinet regarding the definition of decolonization that will guide our work on this Strategic Plan pillar, I have settled on the following: “Decolonization is the process of identifying, confronting, and deconstructing power structures to actively prioritize historically marginalized members and groups in society.”

As I wrote in my message to the Council, “We knew when we took on the difficult work of decolonization that our path would be challenging and yet would move the University forward in important ways. We also recognized that no matter how far we moved down the path toward decolonization, it would not be far enough for some and way too far for others.” The response from both groups was not unanimous, which is one sign of the difficult nature of this work, but as I went on to day in my message to the Council, “And yet, move we will. I am sensitive to the fact that whatever definition landed on, some will be happy while others gravely unhappy. So it goes with this work, but we must decide to move forward as I remain committed to this work.” I want to thank all the members of the Council for their hard work and thoughtful contributions to this process, and I look forward to working with them and the entire WP community on putting into action the commitment inherent in this definition. The definition and related information can be found on this page of the DEI website.     


On a related matter, the search for our next Chief Diversity Officer has not progressed as quickly as I had hoped, and so the search will continue into the summer. In order to give students, as well as faculty and staff, a forum for meeting with and asking questions of final candidates for the position, we will hold virtual town halls at the appropriate point in the search process and details will be shared by email.

This week’s WPWe are Proud – Congratulations and thank you to everyone who took part in the Second Annual Run for the Last Mile 5K on May 7, including 70 runners and walkers – ages 6 to 74 – from throughout the WP community, as well as the student, faculty, staff, and administrators who helped organize and stage the campus race, under the leadership of Dr. Michael Gordon, Dean’s Fellow in the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, and Director of Development Andres Cladera. The event raised approximately $10,000 for the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences Last Mile Scholarship, which provides direct support to students experiencing financial hardship close to graduation.

Thanks to everyone for all your great work this semester and over the entire academic year. You are making a tremendous impact on the lives of our students and soon-to-be graduates.


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