Richard Helldobler resigns, named president at William Paterson University



[The picture of Helldobler smiling] “It has been an honor to serve both as Provost and Interim President during my tenure here at Northeastern Illinois University,” Helldobler said in a letter to the University community. “Together we should be proud of our many accomplishments.”

Sarahy Lopez, News Editor

NEIU Interim President Richard Helldobler has been appointed as the eighth president of William Paterson University in Wayne, New Jersey, starting July 1. The Board of Trustees is currently in the final stages of its search for the next president which will be announced at a later date.

Dr. Helldobler has served as Interim President at NEIU since July 2016, when the previous President Sharon Hahs retired.

During his tenure, the College of Business and Management received accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and the university’s accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission was reaffirmed for a 10-year period.

Prior to his appointment as president, he served as acting provost and vice president for academic affairs, overseeing all matters related to academics.

Dr. Helldobler was responsible for creating the academic program for El Centro, reaching the $10 million goals of the Transforming Lives fundraising campaign. He also helped Hahs open NEIU’s first residence hall (The Nest) and assisted in the creation of the Center for College Access and Success which works with neighboring communities to provide “equal education tools for excellence and a successful future for students.”

William Paterson University is a public institution that has a student population of about 11,000, offering a wide range of undergraduate and graduate coursework and programs. Dr. Helldobler stated in an email sent to the university that the “move feels right.”

“I leave Northeastern with many great memories, along with friendships that I know will continue,” Dr. Helldobler said in the email.

“However, as author Daniel Quinn wrote, ‘To each is given its moment in the blaze, its spark to be surrendered to another when it is sent, so that the blaze may go on.’ I pass the spark on to the next president and know the good work done here at Northeastern will continue,” he said.

“Since arriving at Northeastern, the university’s value of diversity has had a profound effect on me; I’ve come to learn about other cultures and backgrounds, and I’ve also better understood my own. And when I think of saying goodbye, I immediately think of a certain song that takes me back to my childhood,” Helldobler continued.

“When I was young, every Saturday evening my family gathered around the television to watch the Lawrence Welk show. Perhaps it was my father’s shared German heritage with Mr. Welk, or that much of the music of that generation provided some of his earliest American memories. Add to that the German polkas Mr. Welk was fond of, this show was his favorite part of the weekend.

“I feel it wouldn’t be fitting to end this communication without leaving you with a musical thought. Therefore, it is fitting that my last musical send-off is the weekly closing number from the show.” Dr. Helldobler linked a YouTube video within the email he sent to a musical number. It was a song that he played often after town hall meetings.

“Thank you for making my years at Northeastern special, and I wish you the best of luck in everything that you do,” Dr. Helldobler concluded in his email.