BOSTON — Robert Quinn, the former Massachusetts attorney general and state House speaker who helped create the University of Massachusetts and toughen environmental protections in the state, has died. He was 85.
Quinn died Sunday at his Falmouth home, the Boston Herald reported. He continued to live in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood.
Quinn served in the state House of Representatives from 1957 until 1969, the last two years as speaker. He gave his name to the Quinn Bill, which gives police with college degrees higher pay.
He was attorney general from 1970 until 1974, when he lost in the Democratic primary for governor to Michael Dukakis.
Former Boston Mayor Ray Flynn called Quinn a “political leader of intelligence and integrity … remembered for his decency and commitment to fairness and rule of the law.”
Quinn also helped found the University of Massachusetts-Boston and served as chairman of the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees.
UMass-Boston Chancellor J. Keith Motley said Quinn helped open the doors of urban public higher education to city residents.
“We will miss Bob dearly, but we are gratified that he was able to see the university he helped found mark its 50th anniversary this year,” Motley said in a statement.
As attorney general, Quinn led a multistate challenge to the federal government’s ability to drill for offshore oil, created the state’s first Environmental Protection Division, and established the New England Organized Crime Intelligence System.
“We will miss his vision and leadership, and I will miss his friendship and sound advice,” current Attorney General Martha Coakley said.
House Speaker Robert DeLeo described Quinn as “a gentleman who treated people with kindness and respect.”
“As a former House Speaker, he possessed a special love for the House of Representatives,” DeLeo said. “He served as an invaluable source of institutional knowledge and advice and was a person I could count on.”
Quinn, who graduated from Harvard Law School in 1955, also served on the board of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority.
The Quinn Bill, first passed by the state Legislature in 1970, calls for participating municipalities to give salary increases of 10 percent to 25 percent to police officers who obtain associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees or master’s degrees in criminal justice.