University Background


William Paterson University is one of the largest universities in the state of New Jersey, with nearly 10,000 students and nearly 85,000 living alumni, including more than 67,000 alumni in New Jersey. Richard J. Helldobler, PhD, became the University’s eighth president on July 1, 2018.

Located on a 407-acre hilly, wooded campus, in suburban Wayne, to which the institution moved from Paterson in 1951, the University offers the best of all worlds. Bordering on High Mountain Park Preserve, nearly 1,200 acres of wetlands and woodlands, it is just three miles from the historic Great Falls in Paterson yet just 20 miles from the rich cultural, artistic, and commercial life of New York City.

William Paterson is the third most diverse public university in New Jersey and 45 percent of its students are the first in their families to attend college. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution with 29 percent of its students claiming Hispanic heritage. In fall 2019, the University established a Center for Diversity and Inclusion and a Black Cultural Center; a Center for Latinidad opened in fall 2021. Other new diversity and inclusion initiatives launched in 2021 include task forces focused on Latinx and LGBTQA students, a Council for Equity and Justice, a Pre-Doctoral Fellowship Program to advance underrepresented faculty, and an annual President's Diversity Lecture.

Under President Helldobler, the University has advanced its external recognition, especially in the key area of social mobility. William Paterson is among the national leaders in helping to prepare economically disadvantaged students for good paying jobs. It ranks 43 out of 1,549, or in the top 3 percent of institutions in the country, in the 2021 Social Mobility Index, created by CollegeNet to measure the extent to which a college or university educates more economically disadvantaged students (with family incomes below the national median) at lower tuition and graduates them into good paying jobs. It also ranks 21 out of 175 northern regional universities in U.S. News & World Report's social mobility list in its 2023 edition of Best Colleges. Committed to providing an outstanding and affordable education for its students, the University awards more than 2,000 scholarships totaling $7 million each year. Its model Pledge 4 Success program, launched under President Helldobler in 2019, provides grants to incoming first-year students that make up the difference between what a student receives if eligible for full New Jersey TAG and federal PELL grants (for students with exceptional need) and what he or she owes in tuition and fees.

President Helldobler led the implementation of an innovative new First-Year Experience program in fall 2019 for all incoming students designed to support their transition to college as they balance school, family responsibilities, and often a job. The program provides wraparound structured academic and student support services. A weekly student success workshop, Will. Power. 101, provides personal direction to help students navigate college, and has resulted in gains in first-year retention that outpaced national averages.

William Paterson is the first public New Jersey college or university to require new undergraduates to take a course on civic engagement. The institution is a founding member of New Jersey Campus Compact, and has been nationally recognized for its leadership in the American Democracy Project.

Students benefit from individualized attention from faculty, small class sizes, and numerous research, internship, and clinical experiences. Many students participate in career-related external learning experiences such as internships, clinical rotation, or student teaching before they graduate. Undergraduate students are actively involved in research and other scholarly and creative activities with faculty on projects leading to presentations at regional, state, or national conferences or publication in scholarly journals. The University recognizes student and faculty research each April during Explorations, its annual monthlong celebration of research, scholarship, and creative expression.

The University is committed to sustainability, and is a charter signatory of the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment. Its solar panel installation ranks among the largest at a four-year university in the United States, supplying 15 percent of energy needs. Over the past two decades, the institution has increased in size while lowering electricity consumption by 30 percent, natural gas by 50 percent, and carbon emissions by 1,350 tons.

William Paterson offers more than 150 bachelor’s, master’s, and undergraduate and graduate certificate programs, as well as three doctoral programs: the doctorate in clinical psychology, the doctor of nursing practice, and the doctor of education in leadership. Programs are offered through four academic colleges: Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, the Cotsakos College of Business, Education, and Science and Health. An Honors College provides academically gifted students with a rigorous curriculum that includes a challenging array of courses, seminars, and co-curricular activities. The University launched a new platform, WP Online, in July 2020, which currently offers more than 25 fully online graduate degree programs in nursing, education, and business. Enrollment in WP Online for graduate programs exceeded all goals and the program has expanded to include more than a dozen undergraduate programs for the adult learner in areas such as communication, business, information technology, psychology, and professional and leadership studies.

The University’s full-time faculty members are highly distinguished and diverse scholars and teachers. They include numerous Fulbright scholars and recipients of Grammy Awards, Guggenheim Fellowships, Woodrow Wilson Fellowships, and grants and research awards from the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Education, and more.

State-of-the-art facilities provide students with a variety of opportunities for experiential learning. University Hall, the newest academic building, funded in part by $30 million from the state’s “Building Our Future” Bond Act, provides general-use classrooms and dedicated laboratories and clinical spaces for nursing, communication disorders, and public health. The Science Complex encourages interactive learning with nearly 100 research labs and 50 teaching labs, many of which can be configured in multiple ways to enhance faculty and student collaboration. Professional HD-ready TV broadcast studios and radio broadcast studios and sound engineering facilities offer students hands-on opportunities. In the Cotsakos College of Business, advanced facilities include the Russ Berrie Professional Sales Laboratory, a unique computerized multimedia facility that simulates business office environments, and the Global Business and Finance Institute with its simulated trading room. The University Commons, including the John Victor Machuga Student Center, is the hub of campus life, providing students with seamless access to student development services, activities, meeting rooms, and dining venues, all under one roof. A new building at 1800 Valley Road provides space for the School of Continuing and Professional Education, a Child Development Center which opened in September 2022, and expanded and new revenue-generating programs.

The institution actively supports veterans and active service members on its campus. The University has been honored as a “Military Friendly School” by Viqtory, a company that honors institutions that implement the best practices and policies for veterans, and has been included in their Guide to Military Friendly Schools each year since 2011.The University was named a Best College for Veterans in U.s. News & World Report's 2023 edition of Best Colleges.

An active campus life includes residential housing for nearly 1,800 students. A new residence hall, Skyline Hall, opened in 2019. Social, cultural, and recreational activities include more than 100 campus clubs and organizations, 13 NCAA Division III intercollegiate sports teams, and five club sport teams, and more than two dozen intramural sports. Cultural events take place throughout the year, featuring William Paterson’s own talent and renowned professional artists and include concerts presenting jazz, classical, and contemporary music; theater productions; gallery exhibits; and the acclaimed Distinguished Lecturer Series, now in its 41st season.

The third oldest public institution in New Jersey, the University was founded in 1855 as a normal school in the city of Paterson dedicated to the professional preparation of teachers. The institution continued to expand and evolve, and in 1967, by state mandate, was transformed into a multipurpose liberal arts institution. In 1971, the institution was named after William Paterson (1745-1806), the New Jersey patriot who was a signer of the Constitution, New Jersey’s second governor, and a U.S. Supreme Court Justice.

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William Paterson University
300 Pompton Road,
Wayne, NJ 07474-0913


(973) 720-2971

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