To the William Paterson University Community
I would like to welcome all students, faculty, and staff as we begin the spring 2012 semester and extend my best wishes for a productive second half of the academic year. As we launch the new term, we appreciate the patience of our community as statewide negotiations continue on the collective bargaining agreements and hope for mutually satisfactory conclusions as soon as possible. I want to thank everyone for their efforts, patience, and commitment to the students and the University during this period.
Upcoming Spring Events
There are several exciting and important events scheduled for the spring term. The College of Science and Health will host a major conference on flooding and the Passaic River as well as a second conference on nanotechnology. The Cheng Library has organized a weeklong Margaret Mead film festival; under the leadership of the College of the Arts and Communication, the campus will hold a three-week cultural festival focused on Latin America and the Caribbean; and it appears that the spring Distinguished Lecture Series will return on May 4 with a lecture by noted feminist Gloria Steinem. Last week, fifteen of our business and communication students traveled to Omaha to meet and lunch with billionaire investor Warren Buffett, the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway. Mr. Buffett offers this wonderful opportunity to college students several times a year, and we were invited to participate through the good efforts of Susan Lisovicz ’78, a former CNN business reporter who is currently teaching at the University. This was a tremendous, once-in-a-lifetime experience for our students. My special thanks to Susan; to communication professor Joann Lee, who also accompanied the group to Nebraska; to Professors Liz Birge and Luke Dean; and to Associate Provost and Interim Dean Steve Hahn. Thank you for your dedication to the students and also thanks to the alumni who funded this trip.
Spring enrollments met our expectations with overall enrollments comparable to last year. As of today, the University has enrolled 10,775 students with a 10 percent increase in new freshmen and transfers this spring over the prior year. Graduate student enrollment continues to lag with a modest decline in overall enrollment. At the same time, the University expects to see a significant increase in the number of graduates this January and May, partially as a result of the reduction of credits from 128 to 120 and other initiatives we are taking to improve graduation timeliness. While this increase in graduation means that overall enrollment did not grow, we were able to hold enrollments stable due to the improved retention of first-year students from the fall to spring terms. Our efforts in advising and supporting freshmen seem to have an effect as first-year student retention is expected to be between 90 and 92 percent, an increase of 3 percent over last year. At the same time, retention of transfer students improved by 4 percent and is expected to be between 89 and 94 percent. Final numbers will be provided in a couple of weeks.
As we completed the fall semester, we received word of the approval from the New Jersey President’s Council for the University to offer the bachelor of arts in sport management and the bachelor of science in environmental sustainability. We anticipate that the new degrees proposed by the Cotsakos College of Business will also move ahead this spring now that the Faculty Senate has approved. We look forward to generating additional degree programs that are timely and address areas of growing need and interest in order to attract prospective students. As you know, we continue with many important dean and faculty searches this term. Due to additional retirements, we are now searching for 35 full-time, tenure-track faculty positions as well as the two searches for deans announced earlier last term. In addition, we are beginning a search for the Chief Information Officer as Len Bogdon retires this March and continue to search for a new director of university performing arts.
Under the leadership of our new Vice President for Institutional Advancement, Pam Ferguson, we made great strides in fund raising at the end of 2011. Most notably, Christos and Tami Cotsakos made a new gift to the University of private equity stock from their new venture, Mutasian Entertainment, with a presumed potential value of $1 million. In addition, we received $300,000 from the estate of Vincent Waraske ’57, M.A. ’61, with an additional $300,000 expected this spring. Mr. Waraske served for many years as the Paterson historian, and often lectured on campus. Both gifts will be available to support areas of greatest need.
We have also received a three-year pledge of $300,000 from Yong Liu and Mingsheng Liu, two Chinese businessmen, in support of our Center for Chinese Art. Yong Liu was the student of Dr. Zhiyuan Cong, University professor of art and director of the Center, many years ago in China, so this is a very special gift in his honor. We are grateful for the additional support for this center of excellence at the University.
All these new gifts totaling $1.9 million are significant contributions to William Paterson University and will greatly benefit the good work of our Foundation, which is focused on supporting students and faculty.
We are also very excited this semester as we celebrate the completion of the renovation of our science building, which is now completely open as of the first day of classes. Our state-of-the-art science complex places us at the forefront of science education in New Jersey, and we will celebrate with a grand opening ceremony on Thursday, March 1, at 1:00 p.m. Construction on the new atrium entrance to Morrison Hall continues, as does the interior renovation work, and we expect to reopen the building in mid-February. This renovated facility, which will house the Admissions Office and other student services offices, will offer a welcoming environment for visitors to the campus. Work continues on the mini-master plan, minor renovations to Wightman Gym and renovations in Shea recital rooms.
Honors and Visibility
In other news, we are extremely proud that the University was named a finalist in the 2012 Second Nature Climate Leadership Awards contest. The awards recognize innovation and excellence in climate leadership at signatory institutions of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment. As a finalist in the master’s college and universities category, we will be producing a video highlighting our sustainability efforts, which will be posted on planetforward.org for a national public voting competition during March and April 2012. Viewers will vote on the most innovative and groundbreaking institution in each category. We will be asking for your support as we move forward in the competition. Final award winners will be announced in June during the 2012 Climate Leadership Summit.
The University is also proud to be a founding member of New Jersey’s recently formed state affiliate of Campus Compact, a national organization dedicated to furthering the civic mission of higher education. We are one of 17 New Jersey colleges and universities that have joined the new organization, New Jersey Campus Compact (NJCC), which seeks to have a demonstrable impact on pressing issues facing the state and its communities.
As we continue our strategic effort to expand visibility for the University by engaging with and communicating to our full range of audiences, we have launched a social media initiative that includes branded University Facebook and Twitter pages, and a YouTube channel. I encourage you to join us in these online communities; you can access them at:
Next week we will launch an updated home page and related pages, including WP Conferences & Lectures, a new listing of academically oriented campus events that are open to the public.
Finally, I’d like to remind you that the first full draft of the Strategic Plan was distributed to the University community on December 15. I encourage you to read the plan and provide feedback, as well as to participate in the public forums that we have scheduled for discussion of the document.
We will discuss the Plan at the Spring Faculty Meeting on Thursday, January 26, 12:30 –
I wish all of you a semester filled with activity and accomplishment.
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