Chancellor Randolph Bromery

Bromery at his desk


Randolph Wilson Bromery (January 18, 1926February 26, 2013) was an American educator and geologist, and a former chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Amherst (197179). He was the first Black chancellor of the University, and the second African American to lead a predominantly and historically white campus, after Clifton R. Wharton Jr. at Michigan State University.

Bromery succeeded Oswald Tippo after Tippo "resigned in a dispute with President Robert Wood over the budget and the role of the Amherst campus in the university system." Chancellor Bromery's appointment was unopposed, and upon accepting the position, Bromery stated, "My principal focus will be establishing a relationship between Amherst and the President's Office, and Amherst and the other campuses. I believe in an open system. There should be free communication within the campus and within the system."

While chancellor, Bromery established the W.E.B. Du Bois Archives at the University of Massachusetts, and was one of the initiators of the Five College Consortium. He was also president of the Geological Society of America, where an award has been established in his and his wife's name. During World War II, he was a member of the Tuskegee Airmen, flying missions in Italy.

Background from the 1972 yearbook describing the events leading to Bromery's appointment as Chancellor of UMass Amherst
Background from the 1972 yearbook describing the events leading to Bromery's appointment as chancellor of UMass Amherst - Link to image transcript



Via Special Collections & University ArchivesUMass Amherst Libraries

Randolph Bromery guided the campus through most of the difficult 1970s. Born in Cumberland, Maryland, on January 18, 1926, Bromery served in the Tuskegee Airmen during the Second World War. After his discharge, he studied at Howard University, earning his B.S. in mathematics in 1956 while working full time as an aeromagnetic exploration geophysicist with the United States Geological Service. He went on to earn a master's in geology from American University (1962) and a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins (1968).

When he joined the geology faculty at UMass in 1967, Bromery was only the sixth African American on faculty at UMass. During the rapid changes of the era, Bromery served as vice chancellor for Student Affairs. His appointment as chancellor in 1971 made him only the second African American to lead a predominantly white campus, after Clifton R. Wharton Jr. at Michigan State University.

UMass became a more diverse institution under Bromery’s leadership. The ratio of undergraduate men to women shifted from 60:40 to 50:50, and the number of faculty of color increased. Bromery was instrumental in the formation of the Committee for the Collegiate Education of Black Students. He also played a key role in securing a home for the archives of W.E.B. Du Bois and Horace Mann Bond, thereby helping to make the UMass library a repository for leading African-American thought. In addition, the Five College Consortium was initiated during Bromery’s tenure.

Bromery was granted an honorary doctorate upon his resignation in 1979. Since then, he served as president for several institutions of higher education in New England.


List via Wikipedia

  • National Academy of Sciences Outstanding Black Scientist Award (1997)
  • Honorary doctorates: Frostburg State University (1972), Bentley College (1993), UMass Amherst (1979), Hokkaido University (1976), Western New England College, Westfield State College, North Adams State College, and numerous others
  • Honorary President, Soodo Women's University, Seoul, Korea (1976)
  • Fellow, African Scientific Institute and Geological Society of America
  • Honoree of Distinction, National Association of Black Geologists and Geophysicists (2007)
  • Distinguished Service Award, Geological Society of America (1999)
  • Distinguished Alumnus Awards: Howard University, University of Massachusetts, Johns Hopkins University
  • William Pynchon Award (1992), established in 1915 to recognize individuals from the Western Massachusetts region "who have demonstrated exceptional community and civic service"
  • Numerous awards named after Dr. Bromery, including the Dr. Randolph W. Bromery STEM Scholars Program (Roxbury College) and the Geological Society of America's Randolph W. "Bill" and Cecile T. Bromery Award.


"Bromery Speaks Out", from INDEX, 1972

Chancellor Bromery Describes a Typical Day, from INDEX, 1978

Interview with Collegian Staff, from INDEX,1979

Chancellor Bromery Interviews with the Visionary Project, 2010 

The 40th Anniversary of the W. E. B. Du Bois Papers at UMass Amherst (beginning 05:08)

Former UMass Chancellor Randolph Bromery dies at 87 - MassLive, March 2019 

R.W. Bromery Fund Established at UMass Amherst to Support Minorities in Geosciences - UMass News & Media Relations, December 1999

Bromery Remembered as Transformational Leader - UMass News & Media Relations, 2013

UMass Fine Arts Center named to honor groundbreaking 1970s chancellor Randolph Bromery - MassLive, April 2020