St. Joseph’s College will have a new president beginning July 1 who believes the Patchogue campus is “set to take off” as it builds its first dorms, and the college transforms from commuter school to regional institution.
Donald R. Boomgaarden, 62, former provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, will become the eighth president of the 4,675-student college, which has campuses in Patchogue and Brooklyn.
He will be the second non-clergy leader of St. Joseph’s, which last year celebrated the 100th anniversary of its founding in 1916 in the Clinton Hill section of Brooklyn by the Sisters of St. Joseph’s.
In a Wednesday interview with Newsday, Boomgaarden said he hopes to preserve the mission and tradition of inclusiveness he’s found at St. Joseph’s while touting the importance of a liberal arts education.
“I have a love of institutions that have a Catholic tradition. The mission of the school as a liberal arts institution that provides professional education is something I very much understand. It’s the kind of education that young people need. They can study nursing or management but also get a liberal arts core education,” he said.
Boomgaarden, a concert pianist and country fiddler, is also a historian of 18th century opera, music aesthetics and harmonic theory. He will divide his time equally between the Brooklyn and Long Island campuses, and hopes to find time to teach in the music program at the college, he said.
Boomgaarden holds master’s and doctoral degrees from Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester, and a bachelor’s from Texas State University in San Marcos.
He was a Fulbright Scholar who also graduated from Harvard’s Institute for Management and Leadership in Education Program as well as the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities Seminar on Higher Education Leadership at Loyola University of Chicago.
He said he was impressed by the enrollment and financial health of St. Joseph’s in a competitive market for private liberal arts colleges.
“They are really set to take off,” Boomgaarden said. “I feel great about their numbers.”
The current enrollment on the Patchogue campus is 3,528; on the Brooklyn campus it is 1,147.
Boomgaarden succeeds Jack P. Calareso, who announced in the fall that he would be stepping down. Calareso, 66, of Boston, was the first non-clergy president of the college when he took the post in July 2014.
During his tenure, the college embarked on a $30 million project that would create the first student housing on its Patchogue campus, aiming to increase enrollment at a time when private colleges are competing for a smaller pool of local high school graduates due to a demographic decline. The dorm project breaks ground this summer.
“It will be quite an addition to the campus,” Calareso said Wednesday.
Calareso, who is leaving at the end of a three-year contract, said he intends to continue to seek new opportunities in higher education.
Chris Drewes, chairman of the college’s board of trustees, announced the appointment of Boomgaarden on March 3.
In a letter, he said Boomgaarden’s “broad range of experience includes program and faculty development, student success, enrollment management, research and assessment, fundraising and external affairs.”