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John F. Collins, former mayor and MIT professor, dies at 76

Former Boston Mayor John F. Collins, who held visiting and consulting professorships at MIT for 13 years after he left office, died November 23 of pneumonia at the age of 76.

Mayor Collins, widely regarded as one of the most successful and progressive mayors in the city's history, was appointed a visiting professor on January 2, 1968, the day after he completed his second term in office.

In announcing the appointment, MIT President Howard W. Johnson said the appointment represented an important step in developing a broadened program of study and research in urban affairs at MIT.

Mr. Collins said that population shifts and an imbalance of resources "make necessary a national effort unprecedented in domestic America to save our cities.

"Every segment of our nation must join in this endeavor,"he said, including both the public and private sectors, universities, business and labor. "MIT with its vast reservoir of expertise and resources can be a focal point in this endeavor."

As visiting professor, Mr. Collins was affiliated with urban studies (then in the Department of Political Science), the Alfred P. Sloan School of Management and the Department of Civil Engineering.

At the time, a number of departments and laboratories, including what was then the Department of City and Regional Planning, were becoming more active in dealing with such city problems as transportation, pollution, housing, health, crime, budget management and taxes.

Mr. Collins' most conspicuous accomplishment as mayor was a massive urban redevelopment program, paralleling a rejuvenation in business and city government.

Later in his tenure at MIT, Mr. Collins concentrated his efforts in the Sloan School, where he had the title of consulting professor. While there, he coordinated a much-discussed study, based on a computer simulation model of the state's criminal justice system, which concluded that increasing the capacity of prisons was the key to reducing crime in the state.

Mr. Collins retired from MIT in 1981.


Schmitt memorial

A gathering to remember Institute Professor Emeritus Francis O. Schmitt will be held today (Wendesday, Nov. 29) at 2:30pm in the MIT Chapel. Professor Schmitt, who was 91, was a pioneer in modern biological research in study of the brain. He died at his home in Weston on October 3.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on November 29, 1995.

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