July 19, 2021

Dear William Paterson Faculty and Staff,

Good morning, and I hope everyone had a nice weekend. Today, I want to focus once again on our community response to the on-going pandemic and dangers posed by COVID-19.  While COVID-19 vaccination rates are increasing, so too are infection rates, due to both vaccine hesitancy and the extremely contagious Delta variant of the virus. This dangerous combination is the reason we are requiring all students and non-union employees to be vaccinated. And it is why I am grateful to the AFT local and President Sue Tardi, for agreeing that its faculty and staff members will also observe the vaccine requirement. 

As with students and non-unionized employees, faculty and staff covered by the AFT agreement will have to be fully vaccinated when the fall semester starts in less than six weeks, unless their request for a religious or medical exemption is approved. Exemption requests must be submitted by this Wednesday, July 21st. Anyone who receives an exemption will have to continue observing last year’s protocols by wearing a mask while indoors on campus and   maintaining social distance as much as possible. Exempt students and employees will also be subject to regular COVID-19 testing.

The good news is that more than 64% of students and more than 76% of faculty and staff have already been at least partially vaccinated. It is incumbent on all members of our University community to do all we can to keep ourselves and each other safe and ensure that our full return to campus is successful for our students and the entire community. The prospect of a fourth wave of infections is what experts are calling a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.” So, if you haven’t already done so, please get vaccinated. 

This week’s WPWe are Proud -- William Paterson University has been awarded nearly $1.5 million through New Jersey’s “Opportunity Meets Innovation Challenge” grant program for a pilot project that aims to tackle the issue of food insecurity for William Paterson students with exceptional financial need. The competitive challenge grant program is funded by $28.5 million from the U.S. Department of Education, through the second round of the Governor's Emergency Education Relief (GEER) funding. William Paterson is one of the public and public-mission private institutions who have received awards to increase college completion, address barriers to student success, and develop sustainable systemic reforms.

Thanks to Guillermo de Veyga, Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and University Relations for his leadership in securing the grant; Mikki Cammarata, Vice President for Student Development and her team, including Manny Kohli, Director of Hospitality Services; and Reginald Ross, Vice President for Enrollment Management. These individuals helped develop the proposal, secure the grant, and will administer its implementation to the great benefit of our students. Vice President de Veyga recently spoke with CBSN New York about the program.

I do hope that everyone is making time to relax and enjoy all that summer has to offer. I am more excited for the start of this academic year than I have been for any since my first one as President of William Paterson. I hope you are excited, too. Until then, take care, and have a great week.

Richard J. Helldobler, Ph.D.