Integrity, intellectual and spiritual values, social responsibility and service.
One by one, St. Joseph’s College President Donald R. Boomgaarden, Ph.D., recited the 101-year-old institution’s five pillars during his presidential installation ceremony today at SJC Brooklyn, carefully explaining the importance of each and demonstrating how they are all interrelated.
“I can assure you that at the end of the day, it’s the good that you do in your life that makes you happy,” Dr. Boomgaarden told an audience of students, faculty, staff, alumni and local dignitaries inside the Tuohy Hall Auditorium. “It’s not the car, it’s not the job, it’s not the honors. But it’s the good that you do for others. It’s so powerful. It’s irreplaceable.
“So that concept of social justice and of service … makes us different and special in the world,” he added, noting that leading St. Joseph’s effort to constantly live up to the standards of its five pillars is at the heart of his mission as the College’s newest president.
Even before his arrival from Scranton University, where he served as provost and vice president of academic affairs, Dr. Boomgaarden promised to support St. Joseph’s students in their quest to find themselves and to understand “that whatever they are suffering from, they can be transformed into something really magnificent.”
And since becoming president July 1, it’s clear Dr. Boomgaarden’s message of hope and transformation is resonating with students, faculty members, staff, alumni and the College’s Board of Trustees.
“You have represented the pillars of this institution,” said Juanita Arias, a senior at SJC Brooklyn and president of the campus’ Student Government Association. “We began our presidential terms together in 2017, and … although my undergraduate experience at SJC is coming to an end very soon, I am looking forward to working with you in the remaining weeks as we continue to carry forth the mission of the Sisters of St. Joseph.”
Dr. Boomgaarden often notes that it was through the charism of the Sisters of St. Joseph that the ideal of educating the whole person was established early on in St. Joseph’s history. “Not just the mind, but the heart,” he said today. “Not just the mind, but the spirit.”
“How refreshing in this moment of our history to have a leader who creates humaneness and possibility in the midst of our world’s culture of fear and turmoil,” St. Joseph’s College Trustee Sister Helen Kearney ’67, C.S.J., Ph.D., president of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Brentwood, said during her salutation to the president.
Dr. Boomgaarden, who succeeded Jack P. Calareso, Ph.D., is just the eighth president in the College’s history. St. Joseph’s sixth president, Sister Elizabeth A. Hill ’64, C.S.J., J.D., delivered the invocation at today’s event.
During her salutation to Dr. Boomgaarden, Stephanie McCoy, the assistant to the registrar at SJC Brooklyn, spoke of how St. Joseph’s and Dr. Boomgaarden are a perfect match, given both parties’ emphasis on the importance of service.
“He is a good listener, has foresight, shows empathy and most of all, commitment to the college’s growth and success,” she said. “I am certain, that under his leadership, Dr. Boomgarden will continue to advocate service and further develop relationships in the SJC, local and global communities.”
Interim Provost Thomas Travis, Ph.D., praised Dr. Boomgaarden for his adherence to the St. Joseph’s five pillars.
“President Boomgaarden has shown himself to be a man of intelligence, good will, and – most important – integrity,” Dr. Travis said. “As I’ve said repeatedly about Don, ‘The good man you see in public is the same good man I see in private.’”
Dr. Travis also spoke of the meaningful work discussions he routinely has with Dr. Boomgaarden.
“If I go to him with a request, Don will help me refine my thinking and work with me to find an alternative and oftentimes better solution,” he said. “But if it looks like he’ll end up denying my request, he doesn’t do this in haste. Instead he’ll say, ‘Let me meditate on it.’
“Now when Don talks about meditating, he means it. Did you know that he’s also a certified yoga instructor?,” added Dr. Travis, who earlier noted that Dr. Boomgaarden rides a motorcycle and has a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. “Don, is there anything you’ve done that you haven’t yet shared with us? Like being an airline pilot or brain surgeon?” he continued, drawing laughs from the crowd.
SJC Brooklyn Alumni Association president John Fitzgerald said during his salutation, “Hopefully, you won’t need your Tae Kwon Do black belt to get us where you wish to lead us. As one of the 40,000 St Joseph’s (alumni) strong, we welcome you and wish you luck.”
Dr. Boomgaarden received a pledge of support from the faculty, via a salutation delivered by Joseph Pascarella, Ph.D., an associate professor of criminal justice at SJC Brooklyn.
“On behalf of the faculty, we welcome you and you have our full support and dedication, and our trust in your leadership and commitment,” Dr. Pascarella said. “We will stand behind you, aside you, and in front of you in continuing and cultivating our established intellectual values and tradition.”
The installation ceremony also featured a stirring rendition of the National Anthem by Interim Executive Dean Michael Hanophy, Ph.D., who served as master of ceremonies, and a touching benediction from Thomas Petriano, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Religious Studies.
SJC Long Island hosted an installation ceremony for Dr. Boomgaarden on March 2.