Office of the President
January 18, 2022

Dear William Paterson Faculty and Staff:

I hope everyone enjoyed the long weekend, safely weathered yesterday’s storm, and had a chance to reflect on the reason for the holiday, the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as I did in my message to the campus community. (If you missed it, please click here.)

Recent news of continued, nationwide college enrollment declines highlights the urgency of our work to increase enrollment and retention. We will all have to redouble our efforts this year as we focus on new branding and identity strategies, a new Strategic Plan, and new initiatives to retain more of the 2,500 students we lose each year through attrition. I will talk more about all of this and more at my Spring 2022 State of the University Address on Thursday, Feb. 3rd, from 12:30-1:30 p.m. in the Shea Center and streaming online. Please watch your email for further details.

In the meantime, we must continue to keep a close eye on enrollment for the Spring semester. We are currently at 8,336 (or 85.5%) of our Spring 2022 goal of 9,749 students. We are outpacing our goals in several areas: Graduate students +329; Undergraduate part-time +30; New students +88; and WP Online +927 students. We are also lagging behind our goals in several other areas: University enrollment –260; Continuing student enrollment –267; Main campus –1,238; and Winter Session –203 students. In terms of retention, we are at 93.9%, which is equal to where we were at this time last year, ahead of the projected goal overall, and further still ahead of goal for first generation, female, white, and Hispanic students. 

As I have mentioned in past updates, the “Back on Track” initiative aims to re-enroll students from previous semesters, with a goal of 30% of students contacted. I am pleased to report that this goal has been reached for Seniors (31%) and Juniors (36%). Overall, the program has enrolled 25% of contacted students. I want to thank everyone who is involved in all our efforts to get students enrolled, including the many faculty and staff members in the Colleges, who are connecting with students through virtual advising sessions and other means. Your work is making a difference, so let’s keep it up!

As you are all aware, we are implementing the difficult but necessary plan to remedy our structural imbalance, which has been exacerbated by the pandemic. In the interest of continued transparency, I want to update you on the status of this plan as it impacts employees represented by the AFT, CWA, and IFPTE unions.

Among other steps, the plan calls for reducing the number of faculty positions by 100 over a three year period. For the 2023 fiscal year (July 1, 2022-June 30, 2023), the University reduced the number of positions affected to 23 from 40, thanks to pre-layoff strategies resulting from discussions with the AFT. The agreement between the State of New Jersey and the Council of New Jersey State College Locals requires the University to provide those impacted with a minimum of 195 days’ notice prior to layoff. Consistent with that requirement, the impacted faculty members will be notified this week, on Friday, January 21, 2022, ahead of  the September 1, 2022 effective date. Further details will follow from Vice President of Human Resources Allison Boucher-Jarvis to faculty this week. I know that we will all be sensitive to this noticing period and supportive of our colleagues during this difficult time. 

As for employees covered by New Jersey’s Civil Service rules (CWA and IFPTE), effective January 1 of this year, layoffs impacted 41 employees, 21 of whom are building maintenance workers, across 3 shifts. Through collaborative efforts with their union, six of these retrenched building maintenance workers were able to transfer to positions at Montclair State University. Three other affected building maintenance workers remain at WP through interim appointments, and another three elected to retire. And, finally, an additional 23 employees have taken other roles at William Paterson, either by seniority, title, or by exercising demotion, which resulted in lateral moves or demotion to another position or interim appointment. We anticipate resuming hiring for career service vacancies and the reclassification process in February, once the Civil Service Commission (CSC) has closed this layoff process.

The administration and the unions remain engaged regarding our efforts in Trenton working with multiple legislators and the Governor’s Office to secure more institutional funds for the University . We are using a multi-faceted approach to achieve our goal. We could know the outcome as early as February or as late as June, when the final state budget is approved. As I have said in the past, if we can secure appropriate funding or if enrollment dramatically improves, I will rescind some or all of the layoffs. 

This week’s WPWe are Proud – Congratulations to Honors College students on the success of the 16th Annual Coat Drive, during which they collected 616 coats and an additional 566 other winter items. The articles of clothing were delivered to Father English Community Center in Paterson, N.J. to benefit those in need. As part of the drive, students sort, count, and pack the donated coats, hats, scarves, gloves, and socks before they are delivered to various Passaic County community outreach facilities and, ultimately, to the people they serve. Many more coats and other winter items were collected this year thanks, in particular, to 14 Honors students who ran their own “mini” donation drives outside of the main coat drive. In addition to providing warm coats and accessories to people who need them, the coat drive provides students with a meaningful civic engagement experience. Thanks to everyone who organized and conducted this year’s coat drive, including Honors College Associate Director Jan Pinkston and bus driver Terrence Mickens, who are a regular part of the program’s success. Thanks, as well, to everyone who participated by donating a coat, hat, or other items. What a great display of Pioneer spirit!

I know that these are difficult times for the faculty and staff impacted by layoffs, as well as for their students and colleagues, so I am especially grateful for everyone’s continued commitment to all our students. I know that, working together, we will build a better, stronger William Paterson for all. Have a great week.

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