Office of the President

October 17, 2022

Dear William Paterson Faculty and Staff,

I’m sure many of you read the October 12 story about William Paterson on Record. Unfortunately, the reporter sourced the entire article from my past weekly emails, which I post openly on my website, without giving the University the opportunity to provide updates or any context to the numbers he presented, or a full picture of our progress as we re-set the University to thrive in a dramatically changing higher education environment. As I’ve said in the past when discussing enrollment, retention, and budget issues, the data is often a snapshot of a moment in time and changes from day-to-day. This is why I provide regular updates and reminders that we get the most accurate point of comparison only after the close of a semester’s second census, which this year is November 4.

I provide the updates and post them to my website in the interest of transparency and to support University-wide planning efforts. The more we all know about the state of the University, the better equipped we are to grow and transform the institution. With that in mind, here are some current data points that speak to our progress on many fronts, in addition to our continuing challenges. A post-Census II update will be provided in early November.

  • 4% increase in first-year retention and a 4% decrease in the attrition rate of upper class students, stimulated by our network of student support services
  • 17.1% increase in graduate students, including 58% growth in WP Online in one year, as we have successfully established ourselves in the expanding market for online graduate education

Our Will. Power. 101 checklist positively correlates with improved retention rates, further proof that our first-year experience program is working. As I reported earlier this semester, we have jumped five places in the US News social mobility rankings, to no. 21 among regional universities in the northern United States, in addition to our being in CollegeNET’s top 3% nationally for the same metric. 

We also expect that our recent success in developing new adult learning opportunities and our future work in this area, bolstered by the new strategic plan, will pay off as we play a leadership role in offering programs for older students interested in completing or beginning pursuit of a college degree. In the past year, we enrolled 75 students in our innovative Leadership and Professional Studies program – more than twice our goal.

It’s also important to note that, early in the enrollment cycle, numbers for the Fall 2023 first-time, fulltime class are significantly ahead of last year, including both applications and attendees for yesterday’s Open House. I had the pleasure of welcoming prospective students and parents to that event, and I want to thank Steve Quinn and everyone in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, as well as all the faculty and staff who helped share with our guests everything that makes William Paterson a great University.  

A few reminders of events coming up this week: the LGBTQIA+ Pride Celebration kickoff event will take place tomorrow, TuesdayOctober 18 at 12:30 p.m. in the University Commons Ballroom and feature a keynote address by Brittany Dawson, a certified life and career coach, speaking on “The Story of Now: Channeling Joy to Revolutionize LQBTQIA+ Allyship.” Later in the week, I will host Office Hours for Faculty and Staff on ThursdayOct. 20 at 12:30 p.m. in Atrium, Room 126. Please bring your questions and concerns or any news you'd like to share. Also on Thursday, the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences will host its “Contexts” Multidisciplinary Conference from 9:30 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. in the University Commons Ballroom. The conference theme of “Access USA: Generational Change and the Evolving American Dream” will be explored through two panel discussions and a keynote address by best-selling author and social justice and immigrant rights advocate Julissa Arce.

This week’s WPWe are Proud – Congratulations to Dr. Gladys Vega, Director of the Bilingual/ESL Graduate Program, Professor of Literacy Dr. Carrie Hong, and Dr. Maria Tejes, Chair of the Department of Languages & Cultures, who have been awarded a $2.8 million grant through the U.S. Department of Education Literacy for Empowerment in English and Spanish (LEES) Project. The purpose of Project LEES is to improve literacy instruction and equitable access to content learning for dual language learners. The award will allow William Paterson to support 100 pre-service and in-service teachers in their pursuit of certification in bilingual education and strengthen preschool literacy programs in our partner school districts of Clifton, Hackensack, Passaic, and Paterson.

Have a great week, and I hope to see you at some of the wonderful events taking place on campus in the coming days.


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