July 2, 2019

To the William Paterson community:

Today marks one year that I pulled into Entry Number 2 in the big orange car and started my presidency at William Paterson University.  People often ask me, “How is it going?” or, “Do you like it here?” and I respond, “I am having the professional time of my life!” Because I am. 

I want to thank all of you who have welcomed me and worked with me during this first year. You have made me feel a part of the community and, more importantly, functioned well as a William Paterson team to continue to meet the needs of our students. Not only did we get to know each other better, but we accomplished a lot. I know change is not always easy, and I know it is even harder when a stranger comes to your campus making suggestions, but I really believe that we shaped beneficial, new ideas by working together with trust, commitment, and our shared concern for our students.

While we will keep developing our branding statement this year, what is evident is that William Paterson University is becoming the place that teaches a student how to do college while doing college. It will continue to take courage on our part to look closely at systems that present confusion or obstacles to our students and, as we have worked together, you have shown your resolve to address them. As a University-wide team, we have redesigned the first-year experience that I believe will become the signature experience for our students. You have shown boldness in thinking outside of the box with new partnerships to increase our online programs. You have remained committed to helping students get ahead through dual enrollment. And you have exceeded our goals in sponsored research. We have adopted KPIs (key performance indicators) serving as goals for almost all staff, an effective transition-to-retirement program for our faculty, and the ‘tenure upon hire’ option. All of these innovations ultimately will result in improved support for our students and faculty.

I especially want to thank Dr. Sue Tardi, president of the AFT, and Dr. Arlene Scala, immediate past chair of the Faculty Senate, for their leadership and for helping me through this year. I would also like to thank Michael Seeve, chair of the Board of Trustees, Aaron Van Duyne III, chair of the Board of the Foundation, and the members of both Boards. Their collective leadership has been steadfast and invaluable to me. I have been assisted on a day-to-day basis by office staff Rachel Rodriguez and Amanda Oleski, and by the members of the Cabinet, who have advised me and implemented these programmatic changes through their divisions. Many of you are involved in these growth opportunities, and I thank you all. 

I am looking forward to an exciting second year. I hope you come to the Opening Day speech to hear about this year’s plans on Thursday, September 5 at 11 a.m. in the University Commons Ballrooms.    

I wish you an enjoyable Fourth of July holiday and a wonderful summer.


Richard J. Helldobler, PhD