December 7, 2020

Dear William Paterson Faculty and Staff:

Because so much of our short- and long-term prospects as an institution – including the extent of any layoffs – hinge on enrollment and retention, I want to update you on where we stand in this regard.
As of Friday, we are running 527 students below our goal for the spring semester. The good news is that graduate enrollment is up by 21.4% compared to this time last year, thanks mostly to the success of our newly-launched WP Online. Also, we are running 120 students ahead on new undergraduate enrollment. Enrollment for the winter sessions is up, too, by 170 students. More students (560) than last year (507) are scheduled to receive degrees next month, so we are graduating more students, which is great. However, our biggest challenge remains getting continuing students to enroll for the coming semester. 
We are at just 67.8% of our spring 2021 enrollment goal, so much work remains to be done over the coming several weeks. I share these numbers in the interest of transparency and in hopes that they create a greater sense of urgency among all of us to get continuing students registered for spring courses. I know that everyone is tired after a particularly stressful fall semester, but whereas the matter may have seemed to some abstract, with implications far in the future, its consequences are now very real. As recent communications about the Voluntary Separation Program and impending layoffs make clear, there is a direct connection between our enrollment and retention success and how many jobs we can preserve in the coming months. So, let’s continue our collective push to help our students navigate whatever obstacles may be keeping them from enrolling and get them registered for their spring courses.
This week’s WP: We are Proud – With New Jersey’s K-12 students’ school-year disrupted by COVID-19,  parents are looking to bridge a learning gap caused by fewer in-school hours. Aspiring and practicing teachers studying in WP’s College of Education are filling this need for the campus community. Twenty WP students – 13 undergraduate teacher-candidates and 7 graduate students who are already working professionally as educators – plus two College of Education staff members have been providing virtual tutoring services for the children of WP faculty and staff, for free. Thank you to everyone involved in this wonderful effort, which demonstrates our University’s commitment to educating our students and providing them with practical experience, while also serving the WP community.
Have a great week, everyone!
Richard J. Helldobler, PhD