If you give a president a pancake, he’ll probably hang out and talk.
At least, that’s what happened Wednesday at SJC Long Island’s “Pancakes with the President,” an event where students chowed down free pancakes while getting to know their College’s leader, Donald R. Boomgaarden, Ph.D.
“It’s fun for them to see that the president of their college is just like them — that he’s not any different,” said Dr. Boomgaarden, who prefers his pancakes with butter and maple syrup, and bacon cooked into them. “They really enjoy hearing stories about how you became a president.”
Students lined up at 9 a.m. to get their pancakes in the Eagle’s Nest Cafe in O’Connor Hall, then dined with Dr. Boomgaarden.
“You know the kind of conversations that happen when everyone is relaxed at a dinner party?” said Vice President of Student Life Rose Mary Howell, Ed.D., who organized the event. “It’s like that. He gets to learn about them — their interests and their majors — and they get to learn about him.”
Even though Dr. Boomgaarden has an open-door policy, it’s sometimes still intimidating to students to go in and speak with him, Dr. Howell explained. She said that’s why she approached Dr. Boomgaarden with the idea for this event, which also took place last semester.
When you’re with the students, it helps you to remember why you got into this field. And sometimes, you can forget that if you’re in the office all day.” — SJC President Donald R. Boomgaarden, Ph.D.
Dr. Howell added that the president “loved the idea of going into the students’ space” because it brings out what the students and the president have in common.
“Getting the opportunity to interact with the College’s president was important, since it allowed students to really understand what type of person is in charge,” said Cameron Johnston, a student at SJC Long Island. “Dr. Boomgaarden was very personable and friendly to all of the students who showed up. He gave off a very positive impression.”
Johnston also added he enjoyed that the pancakes at the event were free.
As for Dr. Boomgaarden, he liked that events like this help to reinvigorate him.
“When you’re with the students, it helps you to remember why you got into this field,” Dr. Boomgaarden said. “And sometimes, you can forget that if you’re in the office all day and you just have one meeting after another. For me, I think it’s important to connect with the students. Most of the college presidents I know who enjoy being presidents connect with the students a lot. Today, I’m doing this, and then this afternoon I’m going to teach my class, so I feel really connected to them.”