September 28, 2020

Dear William Paterson Faculty and Staff,

Now that autumn has arrived and, with it, chilly mornings and cooler weather overall, it is likely that more in-person classes will be held indoors. So, it is important that everyone continue to observe all of our pandemic-related health and safety protocols, especially social distancing, regular hand washing, and wearing a mask over your mouth and nose.
As you know from Friday’s email from Dr. Jill Guzman, director of the Counseling, Health, and Wellness Center, William Paterson last week had its first confirmed, on-campus cases of COVID-19. Given the extent of community spread in the region and nationally, this was inevitable. The fact that we went a month into the semester before confronting any positive cases speaks well to the thoroughness of our reopening plan and our compliance as a community.
As with most colleges and universities, the important question to ask is not if there will be positive cases on campus, but how the institution will respond when there are. I am proud to say that our team, led by Dr. Guzman, has taken all the right steps and done so quickly, working closely with county and state health officials. As Dr. Guzman noted in her email, contact tracers have been in touch with anyone who may have had contact with these five individuals so that they can be tested. If you have not been contacted, you are not considered to be at risk as a result of these confirmed cases.
These first cases are a reminder of the importance of following all pandemic guidelines and – more than ever – of getting a flu shot. Human Resources is working with a provider to arrange on-campus flu shots with no out-of-pocket expense for faculty, staff, and their dependents participating in the New Jersey Health Benefits Program. The Counseling, Health, and Wellness Center is arranging for shots with no out-of-pocket expense for students with insurance and employees who are not part of the state plan. Students without insurance can get shots at a discounted rate. More details will be provided soon. I urge everyone to get the flu shot to help keep yourself and others safe and avoid further strain on our health care system during this pandemic.
This week’s WPWe’re Proud – One of the many important ways colleges and universities gauge their success in educating and graduating their students is the 4-year graduation rate. Our goal is to get degrees into the hands of as many undergraduates as possible in four years. Key to that effort is helping students navigate the many common obstacles that can get in the way, such as work and family obligations, and financial challenges. I am pleased to report that William Paterson’s 4-year graduation rate increased by 4% this year, to 36.4%, the second highest rate on record, and just slightly short of the 36.8% rate achieved two years ago. Congratulations to all the faculty and staff who are helping make this happen and to all the students who are persisting and on track to earn their degrees in four years.
Stay safe, and have a great week.
Richard J. Helldobler, PhD