October 5, 2020

Dear William Paterson Students:

As we begin Week 7 of the semester, I hope everyone’s fall is off to a great start and you are enjoying the changing colors and cooler temperatures here on campus.
Given both events here on campus related to our pandemic response and the national political climate, I have been thinking a lot lately about the importance of trust in building and maintaining strong, cohesive communities. As I said in my State of the University Address last month, whether our society is debating politics, racism or the proper response to the pandemic, we often fail to get anywhere because there is a pervasive lack of trust in each other’s motives. In a world where trust is increasingly in short supply, we need to be extra attentive to the need to foster it here among our University community. That need is especially great in the midst of a pandemic, in which we all have an even greater role to play in protecting each other’s health and safety  
I am pleased with the level of compliance with our reopening guidelines. For the most part, people are honoring the trust that is placed in them as members of the William Paterson community. But this goes beyond wearing masks while walking around campus and in the classroom, as important as that is. For example, we all need to be able to trust that students, faculty, and staff, alike will all behave equally responsibly away from campus. We also must be able to trust, as another example, that resident students will not bring guests into their rooms in violation of our policies and that someone who is instructed to quarantine as the result of a positive COVID-19 test or contact with a positive case will do so.
To give yet another example, if our contact tracing system is to continue working effectively, as it has so far, we need to trust – on the one hand – that people will fully comply if contacted and – on the other – that we will be contacted if we may have been impacted by a positive case. We all have a part to play in keeping our community safe, and, ultimately, it is in no one’s interest to be anything but honest and transparent – to be trustworthy. Just as we say ‘my mask protects you, and yours protects me,’ let’s also promote the notion that our mutual trust protects us all and creates a strong and healthy community. 
Further on the subject of contact tracing, the New Jersey Department of Health last week launched COVID Alert NJ, a free and secure mobile app that anonymously alerts users if they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. The app also provides users with up-to-date information on New Jersey reopening news, key COVID-19 metrics, and a user-friendly symptom-tracking tool. COVID Alert NJ uses Bluetooth proximity technology. The app will never record any identifying data, and all users will remain anonymous. More information is available here. I encourage everyone to take advantage of this new tool. 
This is National Voter Education Week, and William Paterson University’s American Democracy Project is offering a great series of events in partnership with Campus Activities, Service & Leadership, and the Cheng Library. The series kicks off tonight at 7:30 p.m. when Professor Gary Marks will present Voting 101 at this Zoom link. I encourage everyone to check out details on the series in this week’s Daily Announcements emails and to make their voices heard by voting. Remember, the deadline to register to vote in New Jersey is October 13.
This week’s WPWe are Proud – Annual Giving raised over $602,000 in Fiscal Year 2020 to directly support student scholarships, research opportunities, internships, and more. The highest amount raised through annual giving in the history of the University, the total is 2.2% ahead of last year, 3.8 % over our goal, and a nearly 28% increase since 2015. In March, the Institutional Advancement team quickly pivoted to a Student Emergency Support Fund to raise money to support students directly impacted by the pandemic. Congratulations to Vice President Pam Ferguson and her entire Institutional Advancement team for all that they do to help support William Paterson and our students. 
Have a great week, everyone!
Richard J. Helldobler, PhD