From: Richard J. Helldobler, PhD, President

To: William Paterson University Community

Date: December 19, 2018

Subject: Course Scheduling for Fall 2019

I write to describe the plans in progress to increase the variety of course schedule offerings for Fall 2019. I understand from the Faculty Senate Executive Committee that some faculty have questions. My goal in this writing is to dispel any misunderstandings and provide as much transparency as I can at this point in time.

It is my understanding that to better serve our students, conversations began in 2017-2018, prior to my arrival, about scheduling more three-day-per-week courses within the existing course scheduling grid, especially for our first-year students. The conversation that began last year has now resulted in changes for the Fall 2019 semester. While the course scheduling grid has not changed, there will be a requirement that academic departments stay within the prescribed grid allowing us to more fully utilize all possible course meeting times, including three-day-a-week schedules. This change is necessary for several key reasons:

  • Space utilization has become an issue. The University welcomed approximately 1700 first-year students this fall, the largest amount in our history. At the Board of Trustees’ request, we have set a retention goal for those students of 72.5%. (This fall, we retained only 70% of last year’s first-year students.) When we add to this a 2019 enrollment goal of 1700 first year students, space becomes an issue. We must maximize classroom use across all available timeslots as much as possible so we can accommodate all of the sections needed.
  • Student retention research supports the practice of having students attend classes three or more days a week, thus providing the opportunity to practice and build skill sets more frequently and consistently. This can improve student success leading to better retention in disciplines such as Modern Languages, Math, Writing and others. Please remember the Board of Trustees has ranked retention as our number one goal.
  • The three-day schedules for first-year students will allow Academic Development greater access to both commuter and residential students. Additionally, with over 50% of our residence hall population being freshmen, and that number likely to increase next academic year, Academic Development can collaborate with Residence Life to provide more success support for students who live on campus.
  • As I discussed in all the college and other unit listening sessions, block scheduling and cohorting students will be implemented in the Fall 2019 semester. This will allow students to better manage their time, work schedules, and family responsibilities. First-year students currently may have required courses in both the morning and evening hours on the same day which makes it difficult to attend to their family and work responsibilities.

This means that faculty who generally teach freshmen might have a three-day-a-week schedule assigned to them. This will predominately affect adjunct faculty who currently teach most of the UCC courses. I know this might cause a hardship for some of our hardworking adjunct faculty. However, it resolves an operational space need and has the potential to provide increased retention opportunities.

I am asking department chairs and deans to work closely together to provide equity so the three-day-a-week schedule is not consistently assigned to the same faculty member semester after semester. However, in smaller departments with fewer adjuncts this might not be feasible. We will endeavor to provide equity as best we can.

We are currently working on developing a non-credit Student Success Hour which will be included in the course schedules for all first-year students in 2019. This success hour will be staffed by academic support personnel and other staff members with skill sets that lend themselves to academic support. Students will meet in their success hours for three hours each week. We are currently in the development stage, and ask your patience as we work through these changes. We will be reaching out to faculty early in the spring semester to get input into what skills and content faculty feel should be included in the success hour. Associate Provost Danielle Liautaud-Watkins is leading the design of our Student Success Hour. If you have a desire to be involved in its development or wish to share your thoughts and opinions, please contact her at

It is my hope to be ready to discuss the redesign of the first-year experience and the Student Success Hour in more detail during my spring address in early February. I hope you will all attend.

As many of you, as well as I have said multiple times throughout the semester, “if we want change, we must all change.” And while I am sensitive that this change may not be immediately popular, it is necessary to maximize our limited classroom space and to provide better retention opportunities for our students. As you all are aware, every day of your careers at William Paterson, we are here for the students. The goal of this change is to provide additional consistent and convenient assistance to the students, thus supporting and encouraging their ultimate success as William Paterson University graduates.

I thank you for your great work teaching and guiding our students.