Office of the President

June 29, 2023

Dear William Paterson Community,

Today, as expected, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a decision which prohibits the use of race as a factor in college admissions. This decision is, unfortunately, part of a decades-long campaign to undermine the effectiveness of tools, like affirmative action and voting rights, which underrepresented populations have used in their continuing quest for our nation’s promise of equality and justice.

Affirmative action in higher education arose from the recognition that too many people would forever be precluded from enjoying the full rights of citizenship if they continued to be denied access to educational systems originally built to exclude them. In ruling on a major challenge to affirmative action in college admissions two decades ago, the Supreme Court curtailed the use of race for purposes of correcting past injustices, but affirmed the rights of colleges to consider race as one factor among many for the purpose of creating a more diverse academic community.

And so it is the fundamental belief that diversity is a positive force in our society and on our college campuses that has been called into question by the court’s decision. However, I want to assure you that this development will only strengthen my personal commitment and that of our University to sustain a diverse campus environment where every student has access to the academic, social, and emotional support they need to receive a great, empowering education. In light of this decision, let us renew our dedication to issues of social justice, like affirmative action. It is my hope that as we begin to explore how best to retool our University Core Curriculum, we carefully consider a focus on teaching through a social justice lens. 

I am proud that William Paterson is one of the most diverse institutions of higher education in one of our nation’s most diverse states, where we recognize that our diversity is a strength, not least because it prepares all students for the increasingly complex world in which they will live and work. Indeed, the experience of living and learning on a diverse campus is, along with their degree, one of the greatest resources we can provide our graduates to help ensure their success in an increasingly diverse and interconnected world.      


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