July 23, 2020

To the William Paterson Faculty and Staff:

With just a month until the start of the Fall semester on August 24, I want to again encourage everyone to spend some time reviewing our detailed Reopening Plan , which details our collective responsibilities that will allow us to offer face-to-face instruction, a residence life experience, and clubs and activities, while keeping the University community healthy and safe. Please do read the plan carefully, especially the sections relating directly to your work, as we will all be held accountable for following the plan in the interest of protecting one another, our families, and our communities.
For all the precautions and protocols that we are putting in place, the most important tool in our effort to keep everyone healthy and safe is our shared commitment to one another as members of the University community. We best demonstrate this by wearing face coverings when around others and following all other social distancing guidelines, which are detailed here . This commitment is further expressed in the Pioneer Pledge, which spells out our obligations to adhere to all pandemic-related safety measures and the consequences of failing to comply. A copy of the Pioneer Pledge can be found here . In the coming days, all students, faculty, and staff will receive an email asking them to read the Pledge carefully and agree to follow the protocols listed. Employees who don’t agree to follow the guidelines laid out in the Pledge will get a letter in their Human Resources file as a first step in disciplinary action. It is that important.  
The next phase of our return to campus for faculty and staff ahead of the start of the semester depends on the State’s progress in moving from the current Stage 2, to Stage 3. For now, employees working remotely will continue to do so through at least Thursday, July 30, when I will communicate again. In the meantime, the definition of critical employees who need to be on campus at least sometime will necessarily expand as we prepare for the Fall semester, so you may hear from your supervisor about a change in your status. In any case, we will continue to closely follow State guidelines for capping employee capacity on campus at any one time.
As we continue to support each other, I am proud that so many of you, along with William Paterson alumni and friends, continue to support the University philanthropically. Even in a period of great financial difficulty for so many, the Institutional Advancement (IA) team raised more than $8.6 million in cash and pledges in fiscal year 2020, including a transformational $5 million naming commitment. Annual Giving raised the most money in the history of the program – nearly $614,000, which is 6.1% over goal.  Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, IA turned its focus to garnering support for the Student Emergency Support Fund. To date, more than $96,000 has been raised from 436 generous donors to help meet the critical needs that are most likely to have a direct impact on students’ academic success and their ability to remain enrolled at WP. I want to thank Vice President Pam Ferguson and the entire IA team for their great work on behalf of the University and our students. 
Finally, some employees have reached out to Human Resources to report that they were the subject of fraudulent unemployment claims, and some expressed concern about the potential for breaches of security in University databases. Our IT leadership assures me that there is no indication that the security of our systems has been compromised in any way. Please keep in mind that employees filing for unemployment benefits do so through the New Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development, not through University systems, and the University does not provide any personal information to that agency. Fraudulent unemployment claims have sharply increased during the pandemic throughout New Jersey and other states. If you suspect fraud related to an unemployment claim, please report it to the N.J. Department of Labor & Workforce Development by calling 609-777-4304. After you report it, please notify our HR department at .
I know that, like me, many of you are looking forward to welcoming our students to campus next month. I also know that, for some, those emotions are tempered by on-going concerns about the pandemic. I understand these concerns, and I am confident that a thorough review of our comprehensive Reopening Plan will help allay many of them. Thank you for all that you do for William Paterson, and enjoy the rest of your summer.
Richard J. Helldobler, PhD