York College PAC to be Named for Past President

The Board of Trustees of The City University of New York (CUNY) recently approved the naming of the York College Performing Arts Center (the PAC) as "The Milton G. Bassin Performing Arts Center."

Milton Bassin, who was president of York from 1971 until his retirement in 1991, took over the fledgling college from founding president, Dr. Dumont Kenny, and immediately embarked on a campaign to build a permanent campus for its students to call home. To achieve this goal, Bassin solicited the support of prominent members of the Southeast Queens Community as well as civic and non-profit leaders, including from the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation and the political leaders throughout Queens and beyond. They joined forces with the students, faculty, staff and administrators of the college to lobby Albany and City Hall for the funding to build the campus in Jamaica.

"I am delighted that the CUNY Board of Trustees has approved the naming of the Performing Arts Center in honor of President Bassin," said current president, Dr. Marcia V. Keizs. "Milt Bassin was devoted to York's students. He knew the value of inclusive leadership and employed it to fulfill his vision for York. I am honored to support the naming of the PAC to honor his outstanding service to CUNY, York and the Southeast Queens community."

Due to the fiscal crisis of the 1970s, not only was the building of the campus in doubt, the very existence of the college as an educational entity was threatened. Bassin's hard work paid off when in October 1986, flanked by students, faculty and many of the political, religious and civic leaders who had stood shoulder to shoulder with him, President Bassin presided over the ribbon-cutting to the state-of-the-art campus York now proudly calls home.

In their approval of the naming, the Trustees acknowledged, "Milton Bassin had a long and distinguished career at CUNY in faculty and administrative roles, ultimately serving as President of City Tech (1966-1971) and President of York College (1971-1991)."

The board added, "Milton Bassin is the single individual most responsible for building the York College campus in Jamaica, Queens. During New York City's fiscal crisis, he became revered in the community for his sterling defense of the College's existence and retention of its senior college status, overcoming many obstacles until New York State funding became available. Throughout his two decades of service at York, President Bassin was held in high esteem by York faculty, staff, students, alumni and the Jamaica community."

Queens Borough President Helen Marshall summed up his contributions precisely:

"Dr. Milton Bassin was a man of vision and leadership who guided the future of York College As the longest-serving president of York, he committed himself to prepare the college, its faculty, students and the entire community of Jamaica for the future. He loved York and knew personally, as a graduate of CUNY himself, that intellectual pursuit in a nourishing environment would reap a rich harvest."

President Bassin passed away in August 2012 and since then his family and friends have been engaged in raising substantial funds to provide scholarships in his name to York College students.

The Milton G. Bassin Performing Arts Center will be the first named building at York.

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