Office of the President
May 17, 2021

Dear William Paterson Faculty and Staff,

This is the wonderful week when we all get to celebrate our graduates, who have reached a great life milestone. Congratulations to the William Paterson Class of 2021! While attendance at this week’s series of in-person ceremonies on Wightman Field is necessarily limited, many faculty and staff are part of Commencement and will be on hand to cheer on our graduates. I encourage everyone to take every opportunity to celebrate any graduates you know personally and the entire Class of 2021, including by sharing messages of congratulations and encouragement on social media using the hashtag #WPUNJ2021. I’d like to thank U.S. Senator Cory Booker for his words of congratulations and support for our students. You can view his message here, on our Commencement webpage.

We are tracking several promising new developments in State and federal pandemic guidance, as conditions continue to improve in New Jersey. As you may have heard, Governor Phil Murphy recently extended the public health emergency, which has been in place since March 2020. However, in a joint announcement with Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, the Governor said he would allow the emergency order to expire, provided the Legislature passes a bill to end it, which would need to provide the administration with the tools to manage the ongoing threat to public health, as well as recovery and vaccination efforts, without the emergency declaration. While this is a promising sign, it is still unclear what the implications will be for the State and its public institutions, including William Paterson. For now, our current pandemic-related rules will remain in place. I will update you as we learn about new changes that allow us to ease those rules.
On a similar note, the CDC has released new guidance stating that individuals fully vaccinated against COVID-19 no longer need to wear masks in most situations. At this time, the State of New Jersey has not updated their guidance to reflect this recommendation. Since we are obligated to follow the State guidance, our existing policy requiring masks everywhere on campus, except when eating and drinking or in a private office or residence hall room, remains in place. Again, I will notify you of any change. 

Also, if you have not already done so, please complete the anonymous vaccine survey that was sent by email on May 7 from the Office of Institutional Effectiveness on behalf of Dr. Jill Guzman, director of the Counseling, Health, and Wellness Center. This important survey will help us assess our campus community’s progress in getting vaccinated against COVID-19 and plan for our fall return to campus. Please complete the survey by Friday, May 21.

As promised during the recent Town Halls on retrenchment and layoffs, the Office of Human Resources has developed an FAQ page to provide answers to your questions about this process. The page, which can be found here, addresses rights for members of collective bargaining units, higher ed managers and confidential non-aligned employees, as well as benefits after separation. 

This week’s WPWe are Proud – Congratulations to Dr. Yen-Tyng Chen, assistant professor of public health, who was recently awarded a highly competitive National Institutes of Health grant to research new HIV prevention strategies that investigate the influence of individual, network, and environmental factors on HIV transmission. Dr. Chen and co-principal investigator Dr. John Schneider of the University of Chicago are using an innovative method to understand spatial mobility using real-time GPS data and advanced network analysis. Dr. Chen is an infectious disease and social epidemiologist, whose research incorporates social network and spatial approaches to better understand the independent and joint influence of individual, network, and environmental factors on disease transmission, study recruitment, risk behaviors, and health service use among marginalized groups.
Commencement week 2021 is the culmination of a particularly busy and stressful year, so I hope everyone takes time to relax and unwind this summer. Remember that the summer schedule, during which most employees will work four-day weeks, begins a week from today, on May 24. Thank you all for making this year a success for our students. Have a great week.

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