Office of the President
June 13, 2022

Dear William Paterson Faculty & Staff,

This is a critical time of year, when the departure of most students from campus allows us all the space to reflect on the past year and plan for the coming one, as well as attend to our professional development in a way that’s simply not available during the academic year. As we continue to deal with complex budget and enrollment challenges, it is more important than ever that we focus on this important work at every level of the University. 

I want you to know that both the Board of Trustees and the Cabinet understand the urgency of the situation and are deeply engaged in this work. Last week, for example, following its regular meeting, the Board held a retreat, where Trustees undertook productive discussions on critical topics, such as the continuing impacts of the pandemic on our institution. Specifically, we discussed: 

  • Staffing Shortages – How can we continue to attract and retain good people while also ensuring the greater efficiencies required to address our structural deficit?
  • Well-being— How can we best address the increasing needs of students, faculty, and staff, which have been exacerbated by social disengagement and other pandemic-related pressures? How do we broaden our definition of well-being to include things like financial, physical, and academic well-being and strategically invest to develop and support them? How might the use of a diversity, equity, inclusion and justice lens provide better well-being services for our students, faculty, and staff? 
  • Transfer Students – The pandemic most impacted community colleges, which are an important student pipeline for WP. How might we reduce barriers to transferring, including possibly reducing the number of credits lost in transferring, creating more articulation partnerships, and automating transfer credits?
  • Unfinished K-12 Learning among our Students – Should we invest further in advising and student support, and how might we formalize virtual spaces to address lingering issues that create barriers to college success?

In particular, the Board spent considerable time discussing student mental health, and the empathy and understanding of the problem on the part of the Trustees was obvious. There was also extensive discussion of how WP can better tailor out approach to enrollment with respect to different populations. As always, I am grateful for the Board’s support and encouraged by the level of interest and engagement our Trustees demonstrate. They truly care about our students.

Meanwhile, in Cabinet meetings and retreats, we are discussing these and other issues both in broad terms and how we can best implement good ideas at the operational level. Over the summer, many of our weekly Cabinet meetings focus in depth on areas of special importance to the University, in addition to dealing with ongoing operational matters. I will keep you updated on important developments that come out of these and other discussions, many of which will require your valuable input. You can be confident that we are focused on making William Paterson a stronger, more resilient institution, while also recognizing that each and every one of us has a role to play in these efforts. I hope that, through discussions within your units and things like the Summer Professional Development series, you will feel empowered to bring your unique contributions to this vital task. 

There will be no weekly update message next week, as we take off Monday, June 20th to recognize Juneteenth, which commemorates June 19,1865, when Federal troops rode into Galveston, Texas to inform enslaved people of the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation and their freedom.
This week’s WPWe are Proud – An active and engaged alumni population is critical to the health of every university, and William Paterson is fortunate to have so many alumni who return to campus to lecture, mentor our students, provide philanthropic support, and generally show their Pioneer pride. So we are thrilled to welcome members of the Classes of 1971 and 1972 back to campus to celebrate their 50th reunion this week, after being postponed by the pandemic. To commemorate this milestone occasion, graduates of these classes will gather for a luncheon, where they will have the chance to reconnect with classmates, reminisce with friends, and reflect on their college experience. They will also have an opportunity to enjoy a campus tour and see how the campus has grown since their time as students. Last month, the Classes of 1971 and 1972 participated in the Undergraduate Commencement ceremony (above photo), along with the Class of 1970, who celebrated their reunion last month. There, they joined with the Class of 2022 in the procession and received special recognition during the ceremony. Our alumni are a vital part of the University’s history, as well as its present, and we are excited to welcome them back to their alma mater.

Look for my next weekly update on Monday, June 27th. Until then, have a great couple of weeks, and enjoy the official start of summer, next Tuesday, June 21st.

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