Office of the President

March 16, 2020

To the William Paterson Community:

I’m sure many of you are aware of the series of additional statewide steps that Governor Murphy announced today to help combat COVID-19. William Paterson is already undertaking many of these latest steps as they relate to higher education, but the Governor’s directive may require us to move beyond our initial plan.

Together with my Cabinet of senior University leaders, I watched Governor Murphy’s address live this afternoon, and I applaud his decisive actions and tough decisions aimed at controlling the spread of COVID-19. However, many questions remain about the State’s expectations for specific next steps that public institutions should be taking regarding staff. We are currently seeking answers to those questions from the appropriate officials.

As you know, William Paterson announced on March 11 our plans to move online all classes that can be taught remotely. The Governor’s announcement means that these classes will remain online indefinitely. The limited number of classes that were still scheduled to meet face-to-face after Spring Break will now need permission from the State Office of Higher Education to proceed. We will seek permission for those classes that we’ve already identified. Students and faculty in those classes will soon hear from their Department Chairs about what comes next.

In the meantime, the Provost and our Vice Presidents will be gathering additional information which, together with further State guidance, will determine any additional next steps with regard to campus operations. I will communicate those next steps via email and our other official University channels by the close of business tomorrow, Tuesday, March 17.

The cascade of developments on campus and in our communities in recent weeks has been dizzying. It is important that we all do everything we can to take care of ourselves and our communities by practicing good hygiene and social distancing. Governor Murphy’s announcement today regarding higher education was just one in a package of measures taken in concert with the Governors of New York, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut, which includes restrictions on restaurants and bars, the closing of theaters, gyms, and casinos, and strongly discouraging non-essential travel between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. I urge everyone to take these directives very seriously. Together, they are our best hope for getting COVID-19 under control. 
Please continue to check your William Paterson email and the special website at  for updates and additional information. 


Richard J. Helldobler, PhD
Office of the President | 973.720.2222 |