August 24, 2020

Dear Faculty and Staff Colleagues,

Welcome to the Fall 2020 semester at William Paterson! While this is sure to be a semester unlike any other in the long history of our University, I am thankful that we will be able to give our students a campus-based educational experience, while keeping everyone  safe and healthy. 
I hope you’ll take a moment to watch the “Welcome” video below. After recording it last week in front of Hobart Manor, I went immediately to the first move-in session for our resident students. It was so reaffirming to see students back on this beautiful campus that we all love. It just wasn’t the same without them. We know that being here, in-person, to connect with faculty, advisors, and peers will serve all our students well – especially our first-year students. Giving our students the best educational experience we can while keeping everyone safe is the reason we are all here.
The past five months have been tough for everyone. Our State and our local communities bore the brunt of the pandemic during its early days. Many of us have been personally affected by illness, the loss of a loved one, and economic suffering. But this time has also shown us the power of community, mutual support, and science-based policy. I am so proud of the many students, faculty, staff, and alumni who have demonstrated the William Paterson Pioneer spirit by working and volunteering on the front lines during this pandemic. Thanks to strong leadership and resilient people, New Jersey is now in a place where we can safely return to campus under the guidelines of our Reopening Plan.
Of course, the pandemic is not over, so it is now up to all of us to conduct ourselves in ways that protect ourselves, our colleagues, and our students, while making the most of being on campus given the circumstances. Our Reopening Plan is a sound one, and I have full confidence in it and, more importantly, in the people behind it, led by Reopening Committee Co-Chairs Dr. Jill Guzman and Charles Lowe. Like any plan, its ultimate success will depend on how well we all follow it, while modeling good behavior for our students. So please, social distance, stay home if you are unwell, and wear your masks. You can bet that I will be wearing mine!  And when you’re on campus, remind your co-workers and students that this is the way that we will all stay safe.
There is a lot to talk about with regard to the pandemic’s impacts on our enrollment and finances, as well as the progress of new programs, like WP Online, and existing ones, like Will. Power. 101. So, I hope you will make time to join me online for my State of the University Address on Thursday, September 3rd, when I will talk not just about the challenges we face, but also the many great ways we are meeting those challenges while creating fresh opportunities that will benefit our students through the years. Keep an eye on your email for an invitation to view the address and submit questions. Thank you, stay safe, and have a great semester!   
Richard J. Helldobler, PhD