NEWBURGH – Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus participated in a ceremony honoring Senator William Larkin at SUNY Orange in Newburgh on Friday.
In recognition of Senator 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 dedicated the central lawn adjacent to Kaplan Hall, overlooking the Hudson River, as the “William J. Larkin Jr. Plaza.”
Senator Larkin will retire when his term ends in December.
“Senator Larkin has done great things as Senator for nearly 30 years,” Neuhaus said. “This forever commemorates his lifelong commitment to others and making sure that a higher education is available to all. Senator Larkin is a legend in the Hudson Valley and this recognition by SUNY Orange is well deserved.”
Orange County Sheriff Carl E. DuBois, Deputy County Executive Harry Porr and Legislators James O’Donnell and Paul Ruszkiewicz also attended the 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 were also integral supporters of the project.
More recently, Larkin has 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.
Larkin has spent 39 years in the New York State Legislature, serving in the Assembly from 1979-90. He was first elected to the New York State Senate in November of 1990. A veteran with 23 years of active military service, Senator Larkin retired from the United States Army in 1967 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
He served in many key positions, both in the United States and overseas, and saw combat in World War II while serving in the Philippines operation, and again in the Korean War. During his military service, Senator Larkin was the recipient of the Legion of Merit and seven Army Commendation Medals.