Her Campus WPUNJ had the honor of interviewing the President of William Paterson University - Kathleen Waldron! President Waldron has had a significant impact on WPU's growth and success in the recent years. Since she has been in charge, we have seen so many amazing and positive differences on the campus, in our academic programs, and in our Pioneer Pride. If you've ever wondered what President Waldron does for fun or what building she loves on campus, we have the 4-1-1 for you!
HC: What university did you attend?
KW: I did my undergraduate work at the State University of New York at Stonybrook, which is a big public research university on Long Island. I worked for a year afterwards and then I went to Indiana University in Bloomington, IN and got my Masters and Doctorate there. I got a whole graduate fellowship which covered all my expenses. I wouldn’t have been able to afford grad school without that!
HC: What extracurricular activities did participate in during college?
KW: When I was an undergraduate I was a resident assistant (RA) and a dorm leader (which meant that you were involved in the council that ran the residence halls and helped plan social activities). I worked part-time at the school cafeteria and then I got a job in the History department as a Research Assistant.
HC: Tell us about your achievements and experiences throughout your college years.
KW: I did win some awards. I was inducted into the History Honor Society, and I won a couple of awards as a student leader from my residence hall but also from the History department since I was a History major. I was a leader in my quad and recognized by my academic department.
ALL ABOUT WPU
HC: What do you love most about WPUNJ?
KW: I really wanted to work here because I wanted to work at a residential college. I was the President at Baruch College before I came here and that was a 100 percent commuting school. I wanted to be at a university that had students that lived on campus, and I also wanted a university that had more academic disciplines. WPU is very balanced as compared to Baruch which was primarily business focused. There is a broader, deeper intellectual life at WPU that attracted me. Also, it's a public university, and I am a true believer in public education. Public universities have a mission to not only remain affordable but to work with students of all different kinds of backgrounds, and they have a obligation to the community they are in to engage them.
HC: What does "Will. Power." mean to you?
KW: Will Power is obviously an alliteration of William Paterson, which is why we thought about selecting this, but to me I define the two words separately. “Will” – Do you have the will to succeed? Do you have the will to get through college? It is addressed to the students. Do you have the will to make someone of yourself? “Power” – Can you power yourself to do that? Can you get from the university and the faculty the power to fulfill your dreams? You can have will, but you may not be powered to do it. You may not have the drive. You need both!
HC: What's the most meaningful change you've made at WPUNJ?
KW: Well, from the students’ point of view, getting parking resolved was obviously the big issue! However, I think the biggest change is that people have really started to take pride in the university. This university was underestimated throughout the state, and I would like my legacy to be that I helped people realize the excellent education that is available here. The faculty really are incredible, and hopefully students will be making William Paterson their first choice, and we have measures that that is indeed happening. You can’t just do that through publicity; you have to have excellent academic programs, and your students must come to study those programs and succeed. Students should know that they have taken that next step to succeed because of the education they attained at WPU. Building a garage is easy, but building academic programs of national rank like we have for Business, Nursing, and Education takes time. These programs and others that are growing will continue to drive the academic reputation.
HC: What is the most challenging part of your position?
KW: The most challenging part is really just trying to balance all the demands on my time. I have campus activities that I must go to or want to go to, I am on the board of the Tinker Foundation and part of the NJ College Presidents Council among others. There are a lot of demands on my time, and I can work a 14-hour day but not 7 days a week for weeks and weeks and weeks. Balancing life is really a challenge. Sometimes I succeed, and sometimes I don’t. One day I was on my way to celebrate my sister’s birthday in Long Island and got a call that there was a fire in one of the residence halls, and I turned around and came right back to campus. There was no way I was not going to be back on campus – I didn’t know if anyone was hurt.
HC: Where do you see the university in ten years?
KW: I think the university will be very well positioned in Northern New Jersey. It will be a leading professional school with more highly regarded professional programs. WPU will definitely be meeting more students’ expectations. We already know that Professional Sales, Financial Planning, Music, Jazz and Nursing are all nationally ranked and many more programs will be within in ten years.
HC: What's your favorite building on campus and why?
KW: I don’t think I have a favorite building on campus. There are different buildings I like for different reasons. I love the Atrium because there is something special about the relationship between students and professors there. I love the Commons because it’s the center of campus, and that’s where I get to see all of the students. I just find the science buildings so interesting especially because of features like the beehive hole. The lounge is great and students are always engaging. The Valley Road building is like a showcase building. You feel like you’ve stepped into another world when you drive up to the corporate campus. The pond in the back is beautiful. I don’t really have a favorite, but in the fall I love the Shea Center and the Atrium. In the summer, I love Valley Road and the Power Arts Center. And for the record, I do not believe there is a ghost in Hobart Manor!
HC: We know you have tons of obligations at WPUNJ, but what do you do for fun?
KW: When I leave WPU I love movies, theater, and modern dance. I go to the movies and to the theater in NYC. I like to be out with friends and go to dinner. I also love to travel. I make sure I take at least one trip each year. Some of the places I have been to include Greece, Portugal, Spain, Mexico, China, Kenya, and Peru!
HC: Tell us a fun fact! (It can be personal or related to WPUNJ. People love these!)
KW: I love Sci-Fi movies. I love all the space and futuristic movies. I was a total trekkie when I was younger! I like Game of Thrones too. I’m sure most people would not expect that of me!
HC: What's the best piece of advice you can give to WPUNJ students?
KW: My advice to students is really simple: Study hard and think about what you want to do once you graduate WPU. Stay really focused. Try different things and meet different people. Four years of college is a very unique experience, and you are not going to get an experience like this again! Don’t miss out on some great opportunities.