William Paterson University President Kathleen Waldron previewed the new academic year’s upcoming events and activities while also relaying the institution’s enrollment and financial position in an open address on September 6 to begin her final year as president.
In front of a crowded university commons ballroom after introducing new faculty and staff Waldron commented upon recent ideological clashes in the United States involving white supremacists and nationalists.
“When I wrote this speech … Charlottesville was very much in the news and we note the ugly events there at the University of Virginia that resulted in the death of a young woman and tangentially two police officers,” Waldron said. “The brazen resurgence of neo-fascist groups, white supremacists, and other extreme ideologies are an affront to our nation and our core values. I call upon everyone here today and in the months to come to reaffirm what this country’s all about. To reaffirm William Paterson University’s core values of diversity, inclusion, respect for one another and the embrace of civil discourse.”
The university is hosting multiple events this academic year to discuss current events including the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia and the honesty of media news sources. One such event is the college of humanities and social sciences’ annual interdisciplinary conference called Context 2017.
The conference will begin at 9:30 a.m. Oct. 18 in university commons ballroom C with the keynote speaker being Brown University’s Dr. Steven A. Sloman.
Waldron reported an increase in the freshman class size from last fall but there is an expected total enrollment decrease between 1 to 2 percent. The current enrollment for WPU is 10,084 according to the president.
“One of our challenges does remain enrollment growth in a more competitive educational landscape with a declining high school graduate population in New Jersey, a decline in enrollment at the two-year institutions in the state, increased competition from more universities and colleges in New Jersey and a greater percentage of New Jersey students leaving the state for their education,” Waldron said.
In addition, the four-year graduation rate has increased to 32 percent versus when it was only 14 percent a few years ago.
Newly installed utility lines and radio antennas around campus are part of WPU’s initiative to use alternative revenue sources to support the institution.
“The University directly benefits from these new power lines, which is part of PSE&G’s region-wide program to improve their system resiliency during a storm,” stated Stephen Bolyai, vice president for administration and finance. “PSE&G paid the University $250,000 to permit the installation of these utility poles along the campus perimeter.”
Before concluding the address Waldron spoke about her announcement last month to retire at the end of the academic year after seven years as university president.
“I did make a pledge to myself once in life that I would retire before I turned 70. So next year, next September, I’m retired and I’ll turn 70,” she said.
New university senior faculty and staff include Dr. Venkat Sharma as the dean of the college of science and health and Susan Astarita as registrar.