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‘Higher education has lost a dedicated leader:’ Massasoit president succumbs to cancer

BROCKTON – Massasoit Community College President Ray DiPasquale died April 4 after a brief battle with cancer, the college announced. Massasoit’s vice president for administration and chief financial officer William Mitchell has been appointed interim president.

DiPasquale served as Massasoit’s seventh president from August 2021 until his death.

“Higher education has lost a dedicated leader,” Massachusetts Commissioner of Higher Education Noe Ortega said in a written statement from the university. “President DiPasquale’s leadership will have a lasting impact on the institutions and students he served.”

Massasoit President Ray DiPasquale speaks during the signing event at Donahue Hall on February 14, 2023Massasoit President Ray DiPasquale speaks during the signing event at Donahue Hall on February 14, 2023

Massasoit President Ray DiPasquale speaks during the signing event at Donahue Hall on February 14, 2023

“I am hopeful that all of us who knew President DiPasquale can find strength and inspiration in reflecting on his legacy and fostering a strong future for Massasoit, a university he cared deeply about,” Ortega said.

DiPasquale reportedly never planned to attend college after high school, but was pushed by his family to attend Arkansas Tech University, where he played football on an athletic scholarship. He graduated there in 1971 with a Bachelor of Science.

After graduating, he earned a Master of Science degree from Northeastern University before embarking on a 45-year career in higher education.

Massachusetts Secretary of Education Patrick Tutwiler, right, speaks during a Massasoit Community College roundtable on Thursday, March 9, 2023.  At left is Massasoit President Ray DiPasquale.Massachusetts Secretary of Education Patrick Tutwiler, right, speaks during a Massasoit Community College roundtable on Thursday, March 9, 2023.  At left is Massasoit President Ray DiPasquale.

Massachusetts Secretary of Education Patrick Tutwiler, right, speaks during a Massasoit Community College roundtable on Thursday, March 9, 2023. At left is Massasoit President Ray DiPasquale.

“President DiPasquale demonstrated the value of community college and went above and beyond to ensure all students had a path to their dreams. Among many important contributions, President DiPasquale leaves behind a legacy of a deep belief in the potential of each individual student. The impact of his work has been and will continue to be felt far beyond the Massasoit community,” said Patrick Tutwiler, Massachusetts Secretary of Education.

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Before joining Massasoit, DiPasquale served as president of Clinton Community College in Plattsburgh, New York, from 2017 to 2021. Previously, he served for ten years as president of the Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI), the largest community college in the world. New England. During that time, he served as Rhode Island Commissioner of Higher Education from 2010 to 2013.

Providence---December 3, 2012---Commissioner of Higher Education Ray DiPasquale speaks about the state of education in Rhode Island.  The Providence Journal/Steve SzydlowskiProvidence---December 3, 2012---Commissioner of Higher Education Ray DiPasquale speaks about the state of education in Rhode Island.  The Providence Journal/Steve Szydlowski

Providence—December 3, 2012—Commissioner of Higher Education Ray DiPasquale speaks about the state of education in Rhode Island. The Providence Journal/Steve Szydlowski

While DiPasquale was president of CCRI, the college was reaccredited and turned around struggling enrollment numbers, nearly setting an enrollment record for the college.

“Ray was the epitome of a passionate, caring leader who sought leadership opportunities not for his own benefit, but for the benefit of others, namely people who wanted to change their lives through education. I am honored to have had the opportunity to work with him,” said Tom Carroll, chairman of the university’s board of trustees.

State Department of Higher Education Commissioner Noe Ortega, left, responds to comments from Massasoit Community College student Ailee Martin, left, during a roundtable discussion at the college on Thursday, March 9, 2023, where Ortega and the state's Secretary of Education Massachusetts Patrick Tutwiler discussed Governor Maura Healey's proposed MassReconnect program that would cover the full cost of community college for all Massachusetts residents over the age of 25.  On the right is Massasoit President Ray DiPasquale.State Department of Higher Education Commissioner Noe Ortega, left, responds to comments from Massasoit Community College student Ailee Martin, left, during a roundtable discussion at the college on Thursday, March 9, 2023, where Ortega and the state's Secretary of Education Massachusetts Patrick Tutwiler discussed Governor Maura Healey's proposed MassReconnect program that would cover the full cost of community college for all Massachusetts residents over the age of 25.  On the right is Massasoit President Ray DiPasquale.

During his career, DiPasquale worked in various administrative positions at Middlesex Community College, Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) and SUNY Brockport in New York. Scholarships in DiPasquale’s honor were created at almost every university where he worked.

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DiPasquale always encouraged community involvement and spent time as a member of the Springfield School Committee, the Springfield City Council and as chairman of the Hampden County Commission. He also ran for mayor of Springfield in 1991, but narrowly lost that election.

“His untimely passing has deeply shocked the Massasoit community, but we are heartened by his desire that everyone at Massasoit continue to advance the mission of the College by focusing on the work ahead,” Carroll said.

This article originally appeared on The Enterprise: Massasoit Community College loses president after battle with cancer