The board of trustees at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst voted unanimously to name the campus Fine Arts Center after Randolph Bromery. Dr. Bromery first came to the University of Massachusetts as a professor of geology in 1967. At the time he 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.
Dr. Bromery quickly ascended the leadership ranks, first as department chair, then vice chancellor for student affairs, and then chancellor in 1971. Dr. Bromery served as chancellor of the university from 1971 to 1979. He was the first African American to lead the university.
During Dr. Bromery’s tenure as chancellor, he oversaw the construction of the Fine Arts Center. He was a dedicated saxophonist and lifelong student of jazz.
Kumble Subbaswamy, the current chancellor of the University of Massachusetts, said, “Naming the Fine Arts Center after Chancellor Bromery will enable us to celebrate his contributions to this campus while also extending his memory beyond our walls and into the larger Amherst community and arts community at large through the reach of the Fine Arts Center and its popular performances. As we look toward the 50th anniversary of the Department of African American Studies at UMass Amherst in 2020 and reflect on the campus’s history working in support of social justice and inclusion, we are eager to appropriately acknowledge a chancellor who has had such an enormous impact on our space, reputation, and path toward excellence.”
A native of Cumberland, Maryland, Dr. Bromery 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 in Washington, D.C., and a Ph.D. in geology and oceanography from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore..
After serving as chancellor of the University of Massachusetts, Dr. Bromery became president of Springfield College and Roxbury Community College as well as interim president of what is now Westfield State University. He died in 2013 at the age of 87.