February 8, 2021

Dear William Paterson Faculty & Staff:

I hope everyone got safely through all the recent snowfall. For all the work and inconvenience winter weather can cause, it certainly left the campus looking especially beautiful. Thank you to all the essential workers who worked so hard to remove the significant snowfall. 
Some have expressed to me that these communications can be confusing because they detail the hard things ahead, like layoffs, but also include exciting news at the University. That’s true, but it is the current state of things. There are, indeed, hard things ahead. There are also moments of pride and good news that we should, and will, celebrate. It would be unkind not to recognize the good work going on, even while we face our financial struggles going forward. I remain proud of this place, and I hope you do, too.
It is with mixed emotions that I inform you that Chief of Staff Shelley Bannister will be retiring from William Paterson in August. Dr. Bannister and I worked together at my previous institution, and she has provided tremendous support to me as both a colleague and a friend. Like me, she wears her love for this place and for our students on her sleeve, and she has been one of the University’s biggest boosters during her time here. I am glad she will now have more time to spend with family. This is her third attempt at retirement. I hope for her sake, that this one sticks, and I promise I won’t be the one asking her to come out of retirement again. We will be conducting an internal search for Dr. Bannister’s replacement with the goal of naming a successor later this spring, so that person can work directly with her during a transition period. She has made William Paterson a better University and me a better President, and I am thankful and grateful for her service. We will come together to celebrate her when we are able. She will be missed. 
I am excited to share the news that William Paterson, after working closely with select academic departments, will be expanding our WP Online offerings with eight new undergraduate programs this fall. The programs are Communication Studies, Criminology & Criminal Justice, Health Studies, the newly planned major in Leadership & Professional Studies, Liberal Studies, Management, Marketing, and Psychology. As you know, the University has seen impressive enrollment growth at the graduate level through our WP Online offerings, which were up 77% last fall and a further 27% this spring. The target market for these undergraduate programs are adult students seeking to begin or complete a degree. There are more than a million adults in our region with some college credit, but no degree. Many are seeking to complete their degree online. Thanks to Dr. Kara Rabbitt, Associate Provost who is leading this effort, and to the departments, colleges, and administrative leaders and staff who will be working on this initiative.
WP: We are Proud – After nearly a year-long hiatus due to the pandemic, our Pioneers returned to competition this past weekend, as men’s and women’s basketball hosted Montclair State. We can be proud of all of our intercollegiate and club sport athletes, who have maintained their team spirit and kept up their morale during a tough year. Many of our teams have been able to practice safely together while observing pandemic protocols. Others have done so virtually. Like all athletes and teams, however, they yearn to compete, so it’s great to see games, matches, and meets starting up again. While in-person attendance is not yet allowed, we can support our student-athletes by tuning into some of the many competitions that are being streamed online. We can’t be there in person, but we can don some black and orange and cheer on our Pioneers from the comfort of home. Check out for upcoming events and details on how to watch. Go Pioneers! 
Have a great week.  
Richard J. Helldobler, PhD