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William Paterson University Appoints First Openly Gay President

Helldober will begin his presidency on July 1.

Brooklyn Riepma

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Richard Helldobler resigned from his role as Interim President of Northeastern Illinois University after being appointed as the eighth president of William Paterson University in Wayne, New Jersey. But what makes Helldobler’s appointment groundbreaking is the fact that he is WPU’s first openly gay president.

“The courage of the board of trustees, and acceptance of the community of an openly gay president, speaks to how William Paterson is living their values,” Helldobler told Out in Jersey.

Helldober, 56, was chosen out of roughly 100 candidates for the position, and will succeed Kathleen Waldron for the role. He will begin his presidency on July 1.

“I was certainly drawn to the institution, based on the students they serve. I think the work they’re doing there is critically important,” he told Out in Jersey.

Helldobler’s resignation to Northeastern Illinois University required that a new president replace him. NEIU trustees hired Gloria J. Gibson for the role, making her the first black woman to have the title at the university.

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Brooklyn Riepma is a Boise-based journalist and student. She is a junior at The College of Idaho majoring in Political Economy with minors in Creative writing, Natural Sciences, and Journalism.

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