January 19, 2021

Dear William Paterson Faculty and Staff,

Welcome to the Spring semester, and welcome back to everyone who is returning to campus for the first time in 2021 under the reactivated Black & Orange schedule. The return of our students and the start of a new semester is always an exciting time on campus, and now we have the added benefit of knowing what to expect when it comes to operating during a pandemic, as our success over the fall demonstrates. The rollout of vaccines has been bumpy, but it proceeds, and with each dose administered and each passing day, we can take hope that we are moving closer to the end of the pandemic.  
In the meantime, of course, we must continue socially distancing, regularly washing hands, wearing masks on campus, and practicing all the other good habits that we know will keep us and our classmates, colleagues, friends, and families safe. As some of you may have heard, William Paterson this semester has a tremendous new resource to aid us in keeping our campus safe. The University has contracted with New Bridge Health to conduct regular COVID-19 testing of significant segments of our campus population, giving us the ability to quickly identify and contain any potential outbreaks in our community. More information on who will be tested and how it will work will be coming soon from Dr. Jill Guzman, director of the Counseling, Health, and Wellness Center, and Director of Public Safety and University Police Charles Lowe, co-chairs of our COVID Response Committee.
Good news on the budget front has been in short supply lately, so I am pleased to share that we recently learned that William Paterson can expect to receive an additional $16 million in federal CARES money – $11 for the University and $5 million in grants to our students. Unfortunately, while this money will help in the near-term, it does not fix our long-term structural imbalance and so will not alter our plans for the second round of the Voluntary Separation Program (VSP) or the coming layoffs. If you’re wondering how that can be, consider that this money must first be used to deal with current budget gaps and that we are projecting a growing gap of between $16 million and $23 million for next year, when the furloughs, Cost of Living Adjustment pause, and CARES/GEARS money that helped soften the pandemic’s blow to this year’s budget won’t be available.
By now, many of us are learning of colleagues who have taken advantage of the first round of the VSP and will be leaving the University at the end of the month. I want to assure you that we are planning to celebrate all of these long-serving members of our community, first virtually and then, when circumstances allow, in person. More details to follow, soon.
This week’s WPWe are Proud – With tomorrow’s Presidential Inauguration, a special thanks to the approximately eight William Paterson students, who, as Reservists and National Guard members, have been deployed to Washington, D.C. to help facilitate the peaceful transition of power that has been a hallmark of our democracy since its founding. Many of these individuals won’t be able to begin the semester along with their classmates on January 21, as a result of their service, but faculty and staff will ensure that this does not affect their academic progress. We are proud of them, grateful for their service, and we wish them a safe and speedy return to campus.  
Have a great week! 
Richard J. Helldobler, PhD