January 13, 2014, volume 4, number 4
To the William Paterson University Community:
Welcome Back! I want to welcome back all of our faculty, students, and staff to the spring 2014 semester. I hope each of you enjoyed a safe and rejuvenating winter break, and are as eager as I am to start the new semester.
On Thursday, January 16, 2014 from 12:30 to 1:40 p.m. in the University Commons Ballroom, we will hold a Spring Meeting of Faculty and Staff. This meeting will be similar to the Opening Day meeting that we have every year in September, and will give me the opportunity to inform the community of activities underway on campus as well as plans for the future. I strongly encourage each of you to attend and join us for lunch which will be available at 11:30 a.m.
I also want to thank everyone for their support and patience during the last week of classes and finals week. We encountered some difficult weather conditions, affecting our ability to open the University, which subsequently affected the exam schedule. I and many of you were caught in a massive traffic jam on Monday, December 16 which was due to a failure to de-ice the streets of our town. There were more storms to contend with, and then an external contractor ruptured a gas line, causing a two-hour evacuation of some buildings. While there was no damage to life or property, it was certainly inconvenient and I, again, want to thank you for all you did during these unusual episodes.
During our tumultuous December and early January, we also lost two dear colleagues and a student. Former Provost and Executive Vice President and Professor of Political Science Chernoh Sesay passed away suddenly on December 4; and Brenda Harris, associate director of student enrollment services, died suddenly on December 11. Undergraduate student Emily Murray died unexpectedly on December 12. Emily was a history and special education major. We mourn our colleagues and student as well as the loss of Nancy Norris Bauer’s husband, Fritz, who was such an active member of our community.
We congratulate those people who have announced their retirement this spring including Dean Anne Ciliberti, Professor Nina Jemmott, and Associate Vice President for Finance and Comptroller Rosemarie Genco, and will miss their valuable contributions to the University. And as many of you know already, Vice President Kris Cohen will be moving to North Carolina at the end of the spring term as her family is relocating. We regret her departure but note the enormous contribution she has made to William Paterson University in the three years she has been here.
Our campus improvement projects continue to move forward. We celebrated the opening of the newly upgraded television studio in Hobart Hall right before the break, and will shortly have a ribbon cutting for two completely transformed music recital rooms in Shea, as well as the inauguration of new music practice rooms in Gaedes Hall. And for those of you who have encountered the broken and springy seating in Shea Auditorium, please attend an upcoming performance and admire the very new seats installed there in early January. Construction on the new academic building is expected to commence this summer, and progress on the parking garage continues with an estimated completion this summer (2014). Look for monthly updates about all our facilities improvement projects on the University’s website.
We are pleased to have a new member of our Board of Trustees and new leadership for the Foundation Board. Lourdes Cortez has joined the Board of Trustees. Lourdes is the CEO of North Jersey Federal Credit Union, one of the largest credit unions in the state that enrolls over 30,100 members with total assets of $172 million. As such, Lourdes brings a wealth of knowledge and experience about banking and finance, which will be a tremendously valuable asset to the University. Lourdes will be sworn in at the February 7 Board Meeting.
Aaron Van Duyne, an alumnus of William Paterson – both bachelor’s and master’s degrees – has assumed the chairmanship of the William Paterson University Foundation Board. The Foundation Board guides the fundraising arm of the University and oversees the management of the Foundation’s assets. Aaron is an enthusiastic and loyal alum who has served on the Foundation Board for thirteen years, and was awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award at the University’s Legacy Gala in 2004.
Aaron succeeds Michael Seeve as chair, whose term expired. Mike has been a tireless supporter of the University since joining the Foundation Board in 2000, and we are happy that he will remain on the Foundation Board going forward. Under Mike’s leadership, the total assets of the Foundation grew to $17.5 million, and we thank him for working so closely with Vice President Pam Ferguson and other Board Members to move the Foundation to new heights.
The national search for a Vice President for Student Development was successfully concluded with the appointment of Dr. Miki Cammarata to succeed John Martone who retired in December. Dr. Cammarata will join us on February 17 and you will have the opportunity to meet her at a welcome reception we are planning. An announcement about her arrival was circulated in early January.
In January, we welcomed Oren Shefet as the associate director of the Counseling, Health, and Wellness Center, and we look forward to welcoming Michelle Johnson as our Chief Diversity Officer and Director of the Office of Employment Equity and Diversity. Michelle begins on February 3.
Saul Peterson, the new executive director of New Jersey Campus Compact, will maintain an office at the University in addition to his home base at Richard Stockton College. Saul began his duties September 23, after a very successful tenure at the Connecticut Campus Compact. We are delighted that he will be on our campus on a regular basis, and we also look forward to his collaborations on behalf of Campus Compact with members of our community.
The search for the Dean of the Cotsakos College of Business is entering its final stage. Four finalists will be on campus in the next couple of weeks for day-long interviews to provide the campus with an opportunity for input and feedback. We hope you will participate in the open forums and provide the search committee with your reactions.
We look forward to a change in legislation that will bring the faculty tenure timeframe at New Jersey public institutions more in line with national norms. The New Jersey Senate is considering tenure-reform legislation for the state colleges and universities, changing the timeline-to-tenure from five years to six years, and permitting tenure-on-hire for individuals who hold tenure at another institution. Current faculty will be grandfathered in to the five-year tenure timeframe, and the number of faculty granted tenure-on-hire would be restricted to 15 percent of the tenure-track faculty hired in the previous year or one position.
We are optimistic that the improving economic climate which has created more employment and higher state revenues will mean that our state appropriations will continue at their present levels, thus helping us provide an affordable education to thousands of New Jersey students. Nevertheless, we realize that the cost of education today is beyond the means of many citizens and we are ever mindful of our responsibility to manage our budgets in a highly efficient manner and not rely on tuition increases year after year. We enter an age where the traditional financial model of public higher education is increasingly challenged, calling for us to be more flexible in our approach to pedagogy and to look for alternative sources of revenues while guarding our expenses. I realize that many people on our campus already do this but in the coming years, we may need to ask for additional creativity at our institution. As we prepare our next budget process, we will continue improving our transparency and public discussion about University priorities as we carefully invest to fulfill the goals of our strategic plan.
We have much to look forward to this semester. We will see our new parking garage go up and additional site work completed for the new academic building. And I hope you will take full advantage of the fun and informative events scheduled as part of the Distinguished Lecturer Series, the WP Presents! Series at Shea Center, and in the University Galleries.
Again, please join me for the Spring Meeting of Faculty and Staff on Thursday, January 16, during Common Hour in the University Commons Ballroom.
My best for a productive semester.
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