June 7, 2021

Dear William Paterson Students,

I hope everyone enjoyed the Memorial weekend and took advantage of the break to relax and unwind after a very busy semester.

Over the past few months, I have communicated with you about our need to develop a new Strategic Plan to implement when our current plan ends this time next year. During our recent successful reaccreditation review, the Middle States team observed that our current 10-year plan is an unusually long one, and I agree. With the aim of developing a more flexible and responsive plan, I proposed both a 5-year and a 3-year option. Based on feedback, including a survey of the Faculty Senate, I will recommend Option 2 – the 3-year plan – to the Board of Trustees, when it meets this week. Specifically, Option 2 calls for a shorter, more focused approach that will address key issues at the University over a three-year period. We will solicit input from focus groups and survey the community on what it believes are the key issues, and then form working groups based on those issues, develop actionable steps to address them over the 3-year period, and assign KPIs to measure success and conclude our work developing the plan so the Board can adopt the new plan at its June 2022 meeting. 

Speaking of the June 10th Board meeting, you are, as always, welcome to attend the public portion of the meeting, beginning at 10:45 a.m. The Zoom link will be available on the Board website the day of the meeting. Attending will give you important insights into the Trustees’ thinking and concerns, especially as they relate to our enrollment, retention, and housing revenue challenges and our overall financial health.

Another part of our response to our revenue challenges that we have discussed is the need to close a number of low-enrolled programs. The University will close the following degree programs (no new students will be admitted for the Fall 2021 semester):

  • BA Geography & Minor 
  • BA Art History (the minor will remain open) 
  • MA Applied Sociology 
  • MBA Music & Entertainment Management
  • French Minor


The following Degree programs will be put on hiatus (no new students will be admitted and major curricular reforms are needed during the next academic year to be reinstated):

  • BA Asian Studies
  • Masters in Public Policy

The following Degree programs have been placed on probation (students will be admitted for the Fall of 2021 with minor curricular reforms need during the next academic year or these will be placed on hiatus):  

  • BM Music & Entertainment Management
  • MFA-Art
  • MS Exercise & Sports Studies: Sports Administration
  • MS Exercise & Sports Studies: Exercise Physiology


While we are now free to move about outdoors on campus without masks, there is still conflicting information regarding the continued need for masks indoors. Until we receive further clarification from the N.J. Office of the Secretary of Higher Education (OSHE) on reopening guidance, which we expect mid-June, we will follow the CDC guidelines. If you are indoors and are fully vaccinated you may go without a mask. If you are not fully vaccinated, you must continue to mask when indoors and remain socially distant. Additionally, if you are fully vaccinated but wish to continue to wear your mask, please feel free to do so. 

Finally, June is Pride Month, when LGBTQIA+ people and allies celebrate the strength and joy of our community. I am glad that the easing of COVID restrictions nationally will allow many of the parades and other events that were canceled or held virtually last year to take place in person over the coming weeks. It is an empowering, informative, and fun time, and I am so proud to be a part of the wonderful LGBTQIA+ community of students, faculty, administrators, staff, alumni, and friends right here at William Paterson. Happy Pride! Have a great week.

Richard J. Helldobler, Ph.D.