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Former College Commons Renamed in Honor of Longtime Dean of Students

MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. – George Shepard was instrumental in the creation of Orange County Community College, where he spent 32 years as the Dean of Students, and current college officials assured his name will be forever linked with SUNY Orange Friday evening when they officially dedicated the former College Commons in his honor, renaming the building the George F. Shepard Student Center.

Fittingly, the hub of student activity on the SUNY Orange campus now bears Shepard’s name, as he was widely recognized as the students’ number one advocate throughout his long tenure at the college. Additionally, Shepard has been active in a variety of social and civic organizations throughout his life.

Friday’s brief dedication ceremony featured remarks from Dr. William Richards, SUNY Orange president; New York State Senator John Bonacic, New York State Assemblywoman Annie Rabbitt; and John J. “Jack” McMahon, a long-time employee and former chairman of the college’s Board of Trustees. Approximately 125 people attended the event, which was held on the front steps of the newly named Shepard Center on a crisp autumn evening. Afterward, attendees were invited to a reception in the Fireside Lounge, located inside the Shepard Student Center.

“How fitting that this building should carry George Shepard’s name. He meant so much to generations of students here, and now we can preserve his legacy,” Bonacic said. “Now, when future students look up there and see his name, and they ask, ‘Who was George Shepard?’ We can tell them all about him.”

“I can think of only one person who would not have thought this was a good idea,” McMahon added as he recounted a handful of stories of Shepard’s unwavering commitment to his students, “and that is George.”

Shepard, who strived to improve Orange County by championing “quality of life” issues, was among those who rallied local support for the creation of the college, serving on the Committee on Higher Education and promoting the college on his radio program. The college was established on June 9, 1950, and the doors opened for Semester One on Sept. 21 of that same year. By Semester Two, Shepard was on the faculty. A year later, he was the college’s director of student activities.

For 32 years he served as the dean of students, offering unmatched perspective, compassion, motivation and support for count-less students, many of whom hailed him as their “conscience, confidante, inspiration and, most of all, friend.”

Shepard’s legacy at the college is long and illustrious, and his resume is overflowing with creative, common-sense initiatives that remain at the heart of the college’s operation today. He created the History and Heritage Collection, to preserve local and college materials; administered the early stages of Orange County Community College’s scholarship program; authored the college’s policy on campus rights; established a college-approved rental housing program; served as a founding director of the College Association and supervised Commencement.

In addition to his longtime devotion to his students, Shepard lent his considerable support to The Orange County Citizens Foundation, the Arts Council of Orange County and to many parks and historic site initiatives. He was also active in local Boy Scouts of America chapters, the Junior Chamber of Commerce and the Young Republicans.

The George F. Shepard Student Center houses the college bookstore; the advising and counseling center; the offices of financial aid, career services, student support services, disability services, admissions, records and registration, student activities, bursar, and health services: and the office of the vice president for student development. In addition, student lounge space and a 750-seat cafeteria are located within the facility.

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Mike Albright
Communications Officer
115 South Street
Middletown, NY 10940