February 16, 2021

Dear William Paterson Faculty & Staff,

I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday weekend. Those of you who joined me for last week’s State of the University address know that I talked a lot about the financial challenges William Paterson is confronting and the layoffs and other cost-saving measures necessary to deal with those challenges.  I talked even more about all the good work being done and the great things being achieved across campus by our students, faculty, and staff. As difficult as the coming layoffs will be for those directly affected and for everyone else, it is essential that we not let them define us. 
Sadly, the layoffs will directly impact a significant number of people. But far more faculty and staff will remain to carry on the work of this University. Our students are relying on us to fulfill our mission of providing them with a great education. While I get that, in tough circumstances, it may be common to look for somewhere to lay blame, doing so won’t help us get out of this situation. We have to find ways to confront and accept the reality that we must balance faculty and staff to reflect that which can be sustained by fewer students. Only then can we reset ourselves for future growth. In hard times like these, it is more important than ever that we reflect on what we can do in our respective positions to make this a stronger University. I vow to continue making this the focus of all my efforts, and I hope you will join me in doing so.
Bargaining unit leaders, Cabinet members, and I will continue working together to ensure that the layoff process is a fair one, consistent with both the contracts and our institutional values. We are doing everything we can to save every possible job. Ensuring that this painful process is not in vain will require that these kinds of values-based conversations happen all across campus. What is the fairest way to share the sacrifices required among individuals, departments, and colleges? How will we minimize any potential impact on our students? Where are the opportunities for growth that can benefit the entire University? These are the kinds of questions we all need to ponder, individually and collectively. 
Considering the role that fiscal issues play in what we are going through, I urge everyone to tune into Friday’s Budget and Enrollment Forum, where Senior Vice President for Administration and Finance Steve Bolyai and Vice President for Enrollment Management Reg Ross will present the numbers and discuss the factors behind our current situation. The forum takes place from 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. via Zoom and will include a Q&A session. Check Daily Announcements for the link.
This afternoon at 1 p.m., I will host my first Office Hours session of the semester, which is an opportunity for faculty and staff to ask questions about anything going on at William Paterson. Again, check your email for the link. 
Another important reminder concerns the availability of COVID vaccines through William Paterson for employees in eligible groups, which Dr. Jill Guzman and Ramzi M.Chabayta wrote about last week. Atlantic Health is assisting the University in providing vaccines to our employees who are health care workers, first responders, over age 65, or age 16-64 with a medical condition that increases the risk of severe illness from COVID-19, depending on availability. Please see that email or contact the Counseling, Health & Wellness Center for more details. 
This week’s WP: We are Proud – Congratulations to Professor Elaine Lorenz on her retirement! Professor Lorenz is capping her nearly-30 year career teaching ceramics and sculpture at William Paterson with an exhibition of her work and works from former students. Fertile Ground runs through May 7 in the Court Gallery. It showcases an array of Lorenz’s sculptures inspired by elements of nature alongside works by some of her former ceramic students: Leslie Adler, David D’Ostilio, Amal Elnahrawy, Kara Kovach, Deborah Guzmán Meyer, Diana Jean Puglisi, Marcos Salazar, Jason Schneider, and Sarah Van Vliet. Fertile Ground is a wonderful testament to Professor Lorenz’s career as both an artist and educator, and it is fitting that works from former students, now accomplished artists in their own right, are part of the exhibition, as they are part of her legacy.
Have a great week.
Richard J. Helldobler, PhD