Patrick V. Larkin

Patrick V. Larkin says that he grew up in a family of “very strong women.”

Without the timely intervention of one such woman, Larkin might never have graduated from Temple, passed the C.P.A. exam, graduated from Temple Law School, had a successful career in the insurance industry or become one of the University’s most passionate advocates as a Temple trustee.

The fateful moment occurred in 1972. Larkin, then an accounting major at Temple, returned to his home in Levittown, Pa., and announced to his mother that he wasn’t returning to campus for his junior year.

“‘Over my dead body!’ she told me. She said I was going back to Temple if she had to drive me there herself,” Larkin recalled. “‘Do what you want to do after you graduate,’ she said, ‘but you will graduate.’”

Larkin returned, and in 1974 he earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

Like many of his peers at Temple, Larkin was the first person in his family to graduate from college. And like many of fellow students, his working-class background motivated him to succeed.

“For most of us, a Temple education was our opportunity for a life that was better than what we had growing up,” Larkin said. “But we can say with pride that we never had anything handed to us, and that makes us a little more resourceful and self-assured as we tackle life’s difficult issues.”

After graduating, Larkin was hired by a big-eight accounting firm, and passed the C.P.A. exam in 1976. He then entered the insurance industry in 1978, the same year he began attending Temple Law School classes at night, where he joined what he considers to be an elite brotherhood of suffering.

“Going to night school means you work all day, you go to school from 6 to 10, you drive home and get back to your house at 11 to eat dinner, and then you’re so wide awake you can’t sleep,” Larkin said. “When you run into people who went through that for four years, you know they’re something special — they’re battle-tested — and you think of them as your brothers and sisters.”

Larkin earned his J.D. and passed the bar exam in 1982, shortly after he founded Brokerage Professionals Inc. (BPI) in Media, Pa. Last December, he merged BPI with Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., a national insurance brokerage and consulting firm. Larkin now serves as area president of Arthur J. Gallagher Risk Management Services Inc.

Thirty years after graduating, Larkin was appointed a commonwealth trustee of Temple by the state Senate in 2004. The three intervening decades give him a unique perspective on his alma mater’s growth.

“When I went to school in the ’70s, North Broad Street was full of used-car lots and empty storefronts. Temple wasn’t everyone’s first choice,” Larkin said. “Now Temple is a destination school — it’s a first choice for thousands of students in Pennsylvania and neighboring states.

We just opened a newly renovated and expanded Student Center, and on Feb. 16, we cut the ribbon on the University’s new TECH Center, equipped with 600 workstations.

“These days, qualified students are vying for admission to Temple,” Larkin said. “That tells me something very special is going on here.”

- By Hillel J. Hoffmann