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York College renames performing arts center after former school president

THE COURIER/Photos by Salvatore Licata

The York College community came together to honor a man who was vital to the process of creating the campus in southeast Queens.

Milton G. Bassin, who was president of the college for 20 years, began his legacy at the institution in 1971. He was a staunch advocate for creating a school campus for those students of humble beginnings and wanted to have it in a “neglected part of NYC,” according to Carlisle Towery, president of the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation.

For his dedication to the college, Bassin, who passed away in 2012, was honored on Wednesday as school officials renamed the performing arts center in the college, “The Milton G. Bassin Performing Arts Center.”

“This school would never have survived without his leadership,” said Marcia Keiz, current president of the college. “With this dedication, his legacy continues.”

The performing arts center, built in 1990 and located at 95-45 Guy R. Brewer Blvd., is home to a 1,437-seat main stage theater and a 152-seat small theater. It has also hosted performers such as Bill Cosby.

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Bassin, who was a Russian immigrant and moved to Brooklyn in 1923, was credited by local elected officials for molding York College as a top-flight institution in the city.

“He had the boldness to spearhead the campaign to build a state-of-the-art campus here in downtown Jamaica,” U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks said. “His dream and commitment made it happen. It is only appropriate that the performing arts center is being named after him.”

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