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To the William Paterson University Community
I understand the stress experienced by faculty and staff who are currently working without a contract. At William Paterson University, we are fortunate to have faculty and staff members who demonstrate their commitment and dedication to our students each and every day. I am particularly proud to be part of an institution that has always valued its faculty as the heart of academic excellence.
With this in mind, we continue to move forward with crucial decisions that support the ability of our faculty to prepare students for successful lives. Last summer, we approved 30 faculty searches to be conducted for Fall 2012 and we made the decision earlier than in past years so that we could advertise sooner and attract the best candidates for the positions. We approved 32 promotional opportunities for Fall 2012 – a 28 percent increase over Fall 2011. The sabbatical selection process is underway, offering opportunities for sabbaticals as has been done in years past. The faculty reappointment process remains on schedule, according to the negotiated calendar.
Our pride in faculty excellence is reflected in our strategic effort to bolster the University’s image by highlighting the expertise of our faculty and their engagement with students.
We have received some very impressive media coverage over the last few months. If you were tuned in to our radio station, FM 88.7, on October 11, you were part of national “College Radio Day,” begun by communication Professor Rob Quicke. Over 325 college radio stations were part of the daylong event, which showcased the best programming by college DJs. The creativity and work of Professor Quicke and his students resulted in widespread publicity in local, regional, and national media.
Professor Balmurli Natrajan’s “Global Transformations and the Human Condition” anthropology class was featured in the Chronicle of Higher Education, in which everyday objects are used to teach students about globalization and development, and how simple objects are part of a web of economics, politics, and culture. Professor Christine Kelly has made several appearances on NJTV to discuss politics and elections, and Kelly and Professor Michael Principe provided commentary on NJTV during the election night coverage on November 8. NJTV’s nightly news program has also included Dean Sam Basu in commentary about the job market and Professor Michael Sebetich in a discussion of the effects of the frequent flooding in northern New Jersey. WCBS radio recently featured Professor Charley Flint’s comments on reports of an increased rate of violent crime. Professor Lukas Dean was featured on WCBS Radio and the Wall Street Journal regarding his research proving that “money can’t buy love” for married couples who have a materialistic bent.
Our Financial Planning Program in the Cotsakos College of Business was recently rated among the top ten financial planning programs in the United States by Financial Planning Magazine. We are in stellar company, with institutions that are very well known in the financial planning area. Our students are excelling as well, this year placing second in the national financial planning competition.
Several new academic programs have been approved and are making their way through the approval process of the NJ President’s Council, and I want to thank the academic departments, college deans, the Faculty Senate, and Provost Weil for putting forth these programs. Our Board approved the new BA in Criminology and Criminal Justice, and we will be submitting eleven additional programs early in Spring 2012 – conversions of five concentrations to majors in the Department of Marketing and Management, and six concentrations to majors for the BFA in the Art Department. Converting these programs to majors responds to both accreditation recommendations and makes the University more attractive to prospective students.
I continue to be a strong advocate for the University and for public higher education in New Jersey. In September, I was a panelist with three other college presidents on Steve Adubato’s “Caucus New Jersey” to discuss the impact of the economic downturn and how colleges are working to control costs for students. In October, I was a member of the President’s Panel at the October Meeting of the Executive Women of New Jersey, and a panelist for the Women’s Caucus of the New Jersey Association of School Administrators Annual Meeting in Atlantic City on October 25. Each of these venues is an opportunity to increase the visibility of the University.
We are seeing a renewed pride in the campus. The WP car magnets are being seen all over the state, as alumni and staff display the WP on their cars with pride. What started as a simple idea of planting some daffodil bulbs around campus turned into a campus-wide beautification event. Over 100 faculty, staff, and students came out to plant daffodils throughout the campus. This is an indication that we all recognize the natural beauty of this campus and our collective desire to enrich its beauty. My thanks to the Grounds crew who tilled the soil and helped our volunteer gardeners plant the bulbs.
There are many faculty and staff who have dedicated their professional lives to this institution, and we held a luncheon on October 18 as a means of expressing our appreciation to their longstanding commitment to the University. Yearly, we recognize employees who have celebrated a milestone anniversary of twenty years or more here, and this year we celebrated with three employees who have served forty-five years, collectively accounting for 135 years of service. Ten employees have surpassed the forty year mark, six for thirty-five years, and twenty-one for thirty years. Fifty-eight employees have served twenty years or more. This is a tremendous achievement and I offer our congratulations.
In addition to the thirty faculty positions being searched, the University also is seeking a dean for the College of the Arts and Communication and a dean for the College of Science and Health, a Chief Information Officer, a Performing Arts Director, and for the first time, an internal legal counsel. As many of you know, recently Deputy Attorney General Cheryl Clarke transferred out of the higher education division and was replaced by Jennifer Campbell DAG. She was given additional responsibility which increased the number of entities she counsels so in addition to support from the Attorney General’s Office, we will supplement our legal support by hiring counsel who will work full time at the University. And we have recently appointed a new director for Graduate Admissions, Augustus Amo Kubeyinje.
Our alumni were well represented at the New Jersey Education Association Convention in Atlantic City, November 10-11. I attended our annual reception on Thursday night, which is always a good opportunity to reconnect with a large contingent of our alumni and share a great time.
The University piloted a program during Summer 2011 to help students fulfill their basic skills requirements prior to their first semester of full-time study. This program responds to the University’s retention initiatives, as one means of helping students move directly into graduation-credit courses upon matriculation. The program was an attempt to help students who did not achieve an initial passing score on the Accuplacer placement test to independently retest, participate in refresher workshops, online or in person, prior to retest, or participate in a five-week summer program of supplemental instruction prior to retest. All of these options were offered at no cost to the students. The program was successful and will be expanded for Summer 2012.
Enrollment for Fall 2011 realized an increase for the third year in a row, although the University did not reach its aggressive enrollment target of a 5 percent increase. Fall 2011 enrollment is 11,518, a 1.4% increase over last year. The smaller-than-anticipated growth is attributed to factors including a significant drop in one-year retention rates for first-year students, from 78.7% in 2009 to 75.9% in 2010, and for second year students, from 65.2% to 63.0% for the same years, and smaller-than-expected numbers of new undergraduates, including freshmen, transfers, readmits and, second-degree students. Conversely, there were fifty new graduate students above the target. The Enrollment Management Division is moving quickly to address some of the issues raised, and our recruitment efforts for Fall 2012 are well underway.
Construction on the new atrium entrance to Morrison Hall continues, as does the interior renovation work. The first phase of interior renovations to Raubinger Hall is done and the second phase will begin shortly. A formal dedication of the new Science Hall West is planned for March 2012, and we anticipate that the renovation work on Science Hall East will be completed and occupied by students and faculty by January 2012. We have moved to the “30% Drawing” phase of the parking garage, an early milestone in the design and approval process we must follow, and we are on schedule and anticipate the parking garage may be completed as early as September 2013. A discussion of the plans for the parking garage will take place at a Town Hall Meeting on December 13 at 2 p.m. in University Commons Ballroom A.
Other projects planned and/or in progress for this year include new fountains in Gaede’s Pond adjacent to Hobart Hall; a renovation of Shea 101, a recital hall and instructional space for the music department; a renovation of Shea 103, a rehearsal space for large ensembles; and an upgrade to the Hobart Hall television studios. The second phase of the campus solar panel project will soon begin. A number of deferred maintenance projects are also underway. These include new roofs for 1600 Valley Road, Wightman Gym, Hobart Hall, Shea Center, the Cheng Library, and Hobart Manor. A new sidewalk with improved lighting on the road between Ben Shahn and the Rec Center was recently completed. The Committee on Facilities continues to meet and meeting minutes can be viewed on the following web page, http://www.wpunj.edu/capital-planning along with information about these projects.
Work on the Strategic Plan continues. We are on target to disseminate the first full draft of the Strategic Plan to the University community by mid-December 2011, and we will use the first weeks of the Spring 2012 semester to again seek feedback and comments from the University community. I have been pleased with the number of faculty, staff, students, and Board Members who have participated in the Town Hall meetings that we have held since the September 6 publication of the framework. The feedback has been very thoughtful and of great importance to the Steering Committee. I encourage you to visit the Strategic Planning web pages for updates: http://www.wpunj.edu/president/strategic-planning.dot. Provost Weil will discuss the Plan at the Faculty Meeting on Thursday, January 26, 12:30 – 2 p.m. in the Ballroom, and Town Hall Meetings will be held on Monday, January 30, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and Wednesday, February 1, 2:30 – 4:30 p.m. in the Library Auditorium. The Faculty Senate will hold a special meeting on Tuesday, January 31, 12:30 – 2 p.m. in the Ballroom to discuss the Plan.
I have been asked to serve on a new College and Career Readiness Task Force convened by the Department of Education, focused on articulating the knowledge and skills that students should master to be "college and career ready," and ensuring that New Jersey has the appropriate graduation requirements and high school assessments in place to evaluate the mastery of these readiness standards. I am joining colleagues representing New Jersey’s public secondary schools, and two- and four-year colleges and universities.
It has certainly been a busy and productive semester throughout the campus community. I wish you all the best as fall semester winds down.
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