With a strum on his banjo, St. Joseph’s College President Donald R. Boomgaarden, Ph.D., sat in front of his music class playing the popular Civil War-era tune, “Lorena.”
Dr. Boomgaarden softly sang the lyrics to the ballad as he sat between two SJC Brooklyn students, guitar players Geovanny Iraheta Juarez and Mike Galke. The trio worked in tandem to bring various types of North American roots music to life.
“Lorena” — a common tune for Dr. Boomgaarden to sing with his family growing up — tells the story of lyricist Rev. Henry D. L. Webster’s broken engagement. Although he grew up playing the country fiddle, Dr. Boomgaarden enjoys picking up his banjo.
“I’ll often play a song, and break it down for them, and show them how it’s put together,” Dr. Boomgaarden said of his three-credit fall music class at SJC Brooklyn. “Just that alone is impactful for the students because their professor is actually doing the stuff they’re listening to.”
Dr. Boomgaarden, who became St. Joseph’s president in July 2017, pledged to teach a class at SJC Long Island and SJC Brooklyn once each year. It’s a great way to stay involved and to get to know the students properly, he said.
“Teaching allows me to keep in touch with the entire College, helps me understand how the faculty are feeling, and gives me an understanding what the classrooms are like, how our technology is functioning, and what is working and what is not working for the students and faculty members” Dr. Boomgaarden said.
“It’s a fun and meaningful way for me to ensure that our students are getting the best education possible.”