Office of the President
October 27, 2021

Dear William Paterson Faculty and Staff,

In my October 18 weekly update email, I provided some positive updates on our overall enrollment numbers. While I made a point of distinguishing between headcount and revenue numbers, I understand that these are complex data and there may understandably be some confusion regarding our current and projected budget and enrollment circumstances.

The most important thing to keep in mind here is that, when it comes to impact on our budget, not all enrollment is equal. The screenshots below from Power BI, our data analytics tool, help explain why. As the circled numbers on Fig. 1, “Enrollment Summary,” show, declines in undergraduate headcount – especially full-time undergraduate – are impacting the most significant overall component of revenue and so have a bigger budget impact. On the other hand, gains in graduate enrollment, as impressive as they are, do not have a correspondingly significant impact on the budget because graduate enrollment is a smaller component of revenue on a per student basis and overall. While WP Online remains profitable, our tuition sharing agreement with Academic Partnerships does not have the same budget benefits. This is an area of great growth potential, but for now it remains a small piece of the overall revenue picture. It is proportional, a percentage increase or decrease of a larger number has a bigger impact.  
Fig. 1, Enrollment Summary
I don’t in any way want to minimize the good work being done across campus that has resulted in increases in graduate, transfer, readmit, and dual enrollment. Diversifying our enrollment portfolio and revenue sources will be an important means of growth for the University in the coming years. However, I also don’t want to overstate their budget impact. Full-time undergraduate enrollment – on a per student, credit hour, and overall basis – remains the biggest revenue driver for the University. That figure, as also shown in Fig. 1, is currently 15.5% away from our goal and 11.9% down year over year from last year’s census.

These numbers show how it is possible for us to experience both an overall enrollment increase and a significant budget deficit. This point is further illustrated in Fig. 2 “Current Projections vs Budget,” where the circled “Revenue to Budget” column indicates that, while we did make some enrollment gains, those gains are not large enough to offset the revenue loss caused by the decline in both full-time and part-time undergraduates. Please note that these numbers are for the Fall 2021 semester only, and projections for spring and summer show additional budget shortfalls. As I have said many times in recent years, our greatest opportunity for resolving our budget challenges and getting degrees into the hands of more students is to retain more of the 2,500 students we lose via attrition. That is where much of our effort must be focused. 
Fig. 2, Current Projections vs Budget
I apologize for any confusion my October 18 email may have caused, but I hope that the information above will help bring some clarity to a complex picture. Please bear in mind that there is a lot of data, and it changes often, especially as our enrollment cycles become more fluid as a result of new initiatives like WP Online and Late Start. Department Chairs, Deans, the AFT Local President, and the Faculty Senate Executive Committee all have access to the Power BI data, which is updated daily at 8 a.m., and I encourage them to check it regularly and for campus leadership to share this information regularly. Anyone else with budget and enrollment questions can email Vice President de Veyga or Vice President Ross 


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