June 21, 2021

Dear William Paterson Faculty and Staff,

With the broad reopening of businesses and public spaces across New Jersey and around the country, it is time for the William Paterson community to fully return to campus. Beginning Monday, August 2nd, all employees will resume their work in person based on the current four-day week and then for the full, five-day week on Monday, August 16th, after the summer schedule ends.

Throughout the pandemic, I have remained committed to providing at least two weeks notice of any change to work schedules. Six weeks notice should provide everyone with plenty of time to make all necessary childcare and other life arrangements that have been adapted to fully- and partly-remote schedules over the past 15 months. I know that this will be a welcome change for many and a more difficult one for others. Necessity forced all but our essential workers to switch to a remote work environment for longer than anyone anticipated, and some have taken to it more than others. The work we do is primarily centered on campus, and with our students set to return in the fall, we need to be here, too.  

There is a community-wide conversation to be had in the coming months about how the pandemic changed the way we work. We should be thoughtful about where we are eager to return to prior routines and where we can apply lessons learned during the pandemic to do things differently and better. First, however, we need to all come together again on campus. When we do, anyone who has not yet been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 will be required to continue wearing a mask and maintain social distance to the extent possible. We are working on arranging on-campus vaccination clinics for the Fall semester. Stay tuned for more information in future Monday emails.

I have stressed how critical enrollment and retention are to the work we all do, and I will continue to do so. Given how central they are to the fiscal health of the University, it is important that we are all aware of how we are faring on these metrics. As of Friday, June 18th, overall enrollment stands at 7,112, which is 7.2% below where we were at this time last year, and full-time undergraduate enrollment is 4,687 students (12.6%) below where we were last year. First-year, full-time retention is down 13.6% over last year. Our bright spots continues to be graduate enrollment, which is up 22.% over last year. This is due in large part to WPOnline. Freshmen are up 1.8% over last year, and transfer students are up 9.5%. We have made concerted efforts to bring back students who have taken a leave of absence, and our readmits are up 43.9% over last year at this time. Our biggest challenge remains continuing student enrollment, where we lose 20% of our enrollment, annually. Thank you to everyone in Enrollment Management and Academic Affairs who are reaching out to our students, in many cases one by one, to get them enrolled. Much more remains to be done, so let’s all continue to do whatever we can to aid this effort.

I want to thank everyone in IRT, IT, and elsewhere on campus who helped support the LGBTQ Presidents in Higher Education Leadership Institute, which William Paterson hosted, virtually, last week. I am honored to serve as Co-Chair of the Board for the organization, and I know everyone who participated in the event, including college and university presidents from across the country and abroad, appreciated the work that went into this successful event. 

This week’s WPWe are Proud – Congratulations to Vice President Allison Boucher-Jarvis and everyone in Human Resources on William Paterson receiving the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR) Inclusion Cultivates Excellence Award for our Summer Learning and Development Program. The award, one of the HR Innovation Awards, recognizes demonstrated innovations that advance the human resources profession. The team that works on this important program includes David Jones, Chief Diversity Officer and Director of Talent Management; Annette Baron, Senior Human Resources Generalist, Office of Employment, Equity and Diversity and Human Resources; Tony Krucinski, Department Coordinator, Instruction and Research Technology; Myrna Torres, Personnel Assistant, Human Resources; and Sandy DeJesus, Administrative Assistant, Department of English.

In addition to this award, the CUPA-HR Metro NY Chapter, where David Jones sits on the executive board as the chapter's Equity Chairperson, won both the CUPA-HR regional and CUPA-HR national Chapter Excellence Award. 

As a reminder, this year’s Summer Learning and Development Program, “Sustaining a Growth Mindset through Development,” will take place Wednesday mornings, July 7th through August 11th.

Have a great week, everyone.

Richard J. Helldobler, Ph.D.