William Paterson University’s Presidents Through the Years

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Kathleen Waldron, 2010-2018
Waldron led significant strategic initiatives that enhanced academics and infrastructure. She guided development of the University’s Strategic Plan 2012-22, supported increased academic offerings, including William Paterson’s second doctoral program, the doctor of psychology, and saw the University designated a Hispanic-serving institution. She oversaw an extensive building and renovation project that transformed academic facilities at the core of the campus. She led efforts to expand extend student opportunities beyond the classroom, including participation in civic engagement, undergraduate student research with faculty, and enhanced career development support, including establishment of the Pesce Family Mentoring Institute.

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Arnold Speert, 1985-2010
Speert guided William Paterson’s development into a comprehensive university with an increasing breadth of academic programs and a modernized campus. Under his leadership, the institution progressed from a college to a university, successfully completed its first major fundraising campaign, and upgraded and expanded its facilities, including the acquisition of 1600 Valley Road and development of the University Commons. The campus also expanded from 250 to 370 acres.

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Seymour Hyman, 1977-1985
Hyman’s accomplishments were widespread:  strengthening the quality of the academic programs, supporting faculty scholarship, implementing a master’s degree in business education, creating a general education curriculum, and establishing the Distinguished Lecturer Series, a forum for speakers with national and international prominence.

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William J. McKeefery, 1973-1976
McKeefery pursued an aggressive goal of increased enrollment, and continually strove to expand the college into a regional institution. During his tenure, the institution dedicated a new student center and science building, and Hobart Manor was designated as a State Historic Site and included on the National Registry of Historic Places.

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James Karge Olsen, 1968-1972
Olsen was the institution’s first president from outside New Jersey, as well as the first whose background was in the liberal arts.  He presided over the state-mandated institutional change from teacher education to a multipurpose liberal arts college, and recommended the change in name from Paterson State College to William Paterson College.

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Marion E. Shea, 1954-1966
Shea was the first woman president of a New Jersey state teachers college. Under her leadership, the college went through a vigorous period of enrollment growth and facility expansion, including construction of a library, gymnasium, dining hall, and the music facility that bears her name, the Shea Center for Performing Arts.

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Clair S. Wightman, 1937-1954
As the first president of the New Jersey State Teachers College at Paterson, Wightman guided the institution through the postwar years and the enrollment of G.I. Bill veterans, and its relocation from Paterson to Wayne.  He was a major force in developing a graduate program and new physical facilities.