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Mon, 01.18.1926

Randolph Bromery, Geophysicist born

Randolph Bromery

*Randolph Bromery was born on this date in 1926. He is a Black Geophysicist, educator, and environmental justice advocate. Bromery was born and raised in Cumberland, Maryland, during the Depression.

After graduating from high school in 1942, he used his advanced machine shop training from Franklin Roosevelt’s National Youth Administration to get a job as a machinist in Detroit.  Shortly after taking the job, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps and was called into active duty in 1943.  Bromery trained as a pilot and was assigned to the 99th Air Squadron as a part of the Tuskegee Airmen.  He was stationed in southern Italy, where he flew escort missions.  After his discharge in 1945, he enrolled in Howard University.

He left Howard in 1948 before graduation to take a position at the U.S. Geological Survey as an airborne exploration geophysicist.  While working at the Survey, he began attending night school, returned to Howard, and received a B.S. in math in 1956.  He entered the graduate program in geology at American University and received an M.S. in 1962.  He later received a Ph.D. in geology from Johns Hopkins on a Gilman Fellowship in 1968. In 1969, he accepted a faculty position at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.  He became department chair in 1969 and then moved up to vice chancellor for student affairs in 1970 and chancellor in 1971.

As chancellor, he secured a permanent home for the archival writings of W.E.B. DuBois in the university’s library.   Bromery, a saxophonist, recruited several well-known jazz figures to the faculty, including Max Roach, Archie Shepp, and Fred Tillis.  By 1979, he grew tired of administrative work and returned to the faculty as Commonwealth Professor of geophysics.

He returned to administrative roles in 1988 to serve as president of Westfield State College.  In 1992, he was named president of Springfield College.  He then moved back to the chancellor of the board of regents of higher education in Massachusetts. Using his training as a pilot, he participated in the pioneering efforts of airborne geophysical surveying that involved the development and testing of new equipment and the interpretation of data.

Bromery authored more than 150 scientific articles in international journals, professional volumes, and governmental reports.  He has honorary doctorates from Western New England College, Frostburg State University, and eight others from around the world.  He was named Outstanding Black Scientist by the National Academy of Sciences. He received a Distinguished Service Award from the Geological Society of America, of which he is a former president.

Randolph Bromery died on February 26, 2013.  He was a pioneer in the integration of African Americans into the field of Earth science and has held high-profile positions in government, academia and industry as a result of his contributions.

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