Lawn Adjacent to Kaplan Hall on College’s Newburgh Campus to be Named “William J. Larkin Jr. Plaza”

PHOTO: The plaza next to Kaplan Hall will be dedicated as the William J. Larkin Jr. Plaza

MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. – In recognition of retiring New York State Senator William Larkin’s efforts to make SUNY Orange’s Newburgh campus a reality more than a decade ago, as well as his longtime support of the College and its students, SUNY Orange will dedicate the central lawn (above) adjacent to Kaplan Hall, overlooking the scenic Hudson River, as the “William J. Larkin Jr. Plaza” at 11 a.m., Friday, Sept. 7.

The SUNY Orange Board of Trustees unanimously approved the naming, paving the way for the College to formally memorialize the Senator’s legacy as a champion for higher education, the College, its students and the greater Newburgh area throughout his remarkable career as a public servant.

With Mount Beacon and the Hudson River serving as the backdrop, the dedication will feature remarks from an array of local dignitaries, as well as comments from Larkin. The general public is invited, but please RSVP online by Aug. 31 at The SUNY Orange Foundation has joined with the College in planning and hosting the dedication event.

More than a decade ago, Larkin was among several key local proponents who believed access to higher education was critical to the City of Newburgh’s revitalization. Larkin and Newburgh philanthropist William Kaplan actively partnered with the College to lobby for state and county funding to help SUNY Orange expand its Newburgh Extension Center into a full-fledged branch campus. Kaplan pledged a sizable $10 million donation from his Kaplan Family Foundations while Larkin elicited needed support at the state level. Leaders from Orange County government and the City of Newburgh were also integral supporters of the project.

The College’s branch campus application was approved in October 2008. Newly constructed Kaplan Hall welcomed students for the first time in January 2011 and the renovated Tower Building opened in January 2012. Combined, the two buildings allowed the College to double its capacity to educate students in Newburgh. Today, the campus continues to serve more than 1,500 full- and part-time students, offering seven full degree programs as well as an array of general education courses connected to the College’s broader listing of degrees that can be attained through study at the Middletown campus.

PHOTO: Senator Larkin (center) with the late Dr. William Richards (left) and William KaplanMore recently, Larkin has staunchly supported the College’s BRIDGES program, which offers a post-secondary educational experience for students with intellectual, developmental, and autism spectrum disabilities. The program, available for students who meet basic eligibility requirements, provides an inclusive, community-based educational framework for students with intellectual disabilities (ID), developmental disabilities (DD) or autism spectrum disabilities (ASD). It began in 2015 and has received state funding support thanks to Larkin’s efforts.

“I want to thank the entire SUNY Orange community for this honor,” Larkin said. “I have always believed that a strong education is the foundation for success and SUNY Orange exemplifies this belief. Over the years, it has been my privilege to assist the College whenever I could, and I thank everyone for their support in making SUNY Orange the pillar of the community it is today.”

“Naming the Newburgh campus plaza in Senator Larkin’s honor allows the College to formally recognize the vital role the Senator played in generating public, private and legislative support for the campus’ creation,” added Fred Watson, chair-elect of the SUNY Orange Board of Trustees. “He has always advocated for the City of Newburgh, securing funding and other support for projects big and small, public and private. Once the Senator announced his retirement, our Trustees thought the timing was right to show our appreciation of his longtime advocacy on behalf of SUNY Orange.”

“The Senator and I share a deep commitment to higher education and have often discussed the impactful role SUNY Orange maintains within Orange County,” says Dr. Kristine Young, SUNY Orange president. “As we have shaped our vision of how SUNY Orange can more effectively serve the students of today, as well as the students of tomorrow, the Senator has embraced our efforts every step of the way. His counsel has been invaluable. Additionally, his backing of our BRIDGES program several years ago provided instant credibility for a very worthwhile project. Those of us in higher education in the Hudson Valley, and specifically at SUNY Orange, have always known that Senator Larkin was a friend.”

Larkin, who will be retiring from when his current term ends in December, has been serving others for more than 70 years. He is a combat veteran of World War II and the Korean War who served for 23 years in the United States Army before retiring as a lieutenant colonel.

He was elected to the New York State Assembly in 1979 and remained in that role until first being elected to the State Senate in November 1990, where he has remained ever since. Prior to that, he served as an executive assistant in the New York State Senate, and from 1976-1977 was Supervisor of the Town of New Windsor.

Over four-plus decades, Larkin has passed many pieces of landmark legislation while providing unmatched leadership in government as well as the community he represents. Additionally, he garnered critical capital funding for municipalities, school districts and nonprofit organizations that has led to infrastructure improvements and grant projects all across the Hudson Valley. He has also supported improvements to healthcare, higher education and social services that have impacted the daily lives, health and well-being of his constituents.

He is a member of the Genesis Group, which founded the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor in New Windsor. Larkin also initiated the campaign to create the Purple Heart Forever stamp. He has received countless community awards, organizational honors and military commendations throughout his career.

Photo caption: Retiring New York State Senator William Larkin, center, will be honored by SUNY Orange on Sept. 7 when the College dedicates the lawn and walkway adjacent to Kaplan Hall, overlooking the Hudson River, as the William J. Larkin Jr. Plaza. Shown here with the late Dr. William Richards (left), former SUNY Orange president, and William Kaplan during a 2012 tour of the newly opened Kaplan Hall, Larkin was a key figure in gaining local and state support to expand the College's presence in Newburgh from an extension center to an approved branch campus. The campus' creation doubled the College's ability to educate students in Newburgh.


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Mike Albright
Communications Officer
115 South Street
Middletown, NY 10940