Randolph Bromery, former professor and chancellor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, died in Danvers, Massachusetts, this past week. He was 87 years old.
A native of Cumberland, Maryland, he attended racially segregated public schools and then joined the Army Air Corps and served with the Tuskegee Airmen. After the end of World War II, Bromery enrolled at Howard University in Washington, D.C., but left before earning his degree to work for the U.S. Geological Survey. He later returned to Howard University and earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. He went on to earn a master’s degree in geology and geophysics from American University and a Ph.D. in geology and oceanography from Johns Hopkins University.
When he joined the geology faculty at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1967, Bromery was one of only seven Black faculty members out of a total faculty of about 1,000. There were only 36 African American students on campus out of a total student body of 14,000.
In 1970 he was named vice chancellor and a year later he was named chancellor of the university. He served as chancellor until 1979 and then returned to teaching. Later is his career he served as president of Westfield State College, Springfield College, Roxbury Community College, and as chancellor of the board of regents of higher education in Massachusetts.
“Randolph Bromery was a pioneering scientist and educator whose legacy still resonates daily at UMass Amherst,” said university chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy. “He worked diligently to expand educational opportunities for black students in the 1970s and later led campus efforts to acquire the papers of W.E.B. Du Bois, which are now regarded worldwide as an important resource for researchers. All of us in the UMass Amherst community mourn his passing.”