Joseph M. Cronin, first Massachusetts secretary of education, dies at 85

“In order to really give poor people in the inner city a chance to compete,” he told the Globe, “we will have to spend more on their education than on the average child in other communities.”

Dr. Cronin, who in his long, multifaceted career as an educator had also served as president of what is now Bentley University, died Saturday in the Pat Roche Hospice Home in Hingham of progressive supranuclear palsy. He was 85 and had lived in Milton for many years.

As he prepared to retire in 1997 from leading what was then Bentley College, he received a letter from nearly 20 colleagues who signed themselves as “the faculty and staff of color.”

“Under your leadership diversity has become a business imperative for the college,” they wrote. “Your leadership in diversity has resulted in many of us joining the Bentley community.”

When Dr. Cronin first arrived in 1991

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