William Paterson Appoints New President


The next William Paterson University President, Dr. Richard Helldobler

Christopher Molina, Contributing Writer

William Paterson University announced that it will appoint Dr. Richard J. Helldobler as its eighth president, effective July 1, 2018.

Helldobler will replace current the university’s current president, Dr. Kathleen Waldron, who is retiring later this year.

William Paterson will require the new president to bring his expertise and leadership to the table.  This decision will enable the university to continue forward in providing a quality education to its current and future students.

During Helldobler’s visit to the university, which included an open forum, he told the audience of his strong background in academia, highlighting his experience serving as a faculty member, dean, academic vice president and interim president.

“The individual that we selected was of various ranks within the academic community, so he has the experience, he understands faculty, he understands the staff [and] he’s an educator in his own right he grasp what we are all about [and all of] those things came out loud and clear and they were very important to us,” said Chair of the University Board of Trustees Frederick Gruel.

Since July of 2016, Dr. Helldobler has served as interim president at Northeastern Illinois University. During his time as president, the College of Business and Management received accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and by the Higher Learning Commission. Prior to his presidency, he served as a senior administrative officer and Vice President for Academic Affairs, managing all matters related to academics.

Before his time at Northeastern Illinois University, Helldobler served in Academic Affairs as Vice President at Shepherd University and an associate senior administrative officer /Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs at the California University of Pennsylvania.  He earned a doctorate and Master of Arts in theater at Bowling Green State University and a Bachelor of Business Administration at University of Toledo.

“There are a lot of similarities between our two institutions. William Paterson is a Hispanic-serving institution as is Northeastern,” he said. “We are the most diverse campus in the midwest and William Paterson has that same diversity in its student body, faculty and staff. I think that many of the experiences between the two institutions are similar so I feel really prepared to assume this new and exciting role at William Paterson.”

The appointment of Dr. Helldobler was no easy process.

The search itself took five months, and the search committee narrowed down the 100 applications that were first submitted to between nine and 12 candidates. That number was further shrunk down to four finalists who were then brought to the board of trustees to make a final decision.

The entire process encompassed the efforts of a group of 14 members ranging from university staff, students, faculty and the executive search firm Greenwood, Asher & Associates, Inc. The firm is known for its dedication to elevating leaders and organization by executive search and recruiting.

“They were very helpful. They helped the search committee to identify qualified individual and provided us with the necessary background checks [and] they reaffirmed references so it allows the search committee the opportunity to focus on the other aspects of the quality of the individual,” said Gruel.

What attracted Helldobler the most to William Paterson was the campus diversity, similar to what he experienced at Northeastern Illinois University.

“The profile of the students, the diversity, the fact that it was a HIS (Hispanic-serving institution) spoke to me who I was personally and professionally and that was the main thing that drove me to William Paterson,” he said.

Helldobler is ready to embark on this new chapter and his intentions of working with the people of the university clear.

“I look forward working with the provost and the dean and the faculty on certainly straightening the academic programs that you have at William Paterson.”