The trustees of the University of District of Columbia have picked as the university's first president Randolph W. Bromery, a geophysicist who now is chancellor of the University of Massachusett's main campus at Amherst.
Bromery, 51, has strong Washington ties, having worked here for 21 years for the U.S. Geological Survey. He is one of five black persons in the country with a doctorate in geology.
Last night Bromery said he has not definitely decided whether to accept the university post here. He said he has been discussing the position with the trustees by telephone since they offered him the job Monday night.
The trustee's decision to pick Bromery follows an elaborate six-month search for a president for the new university, which is being formed by a merger of the city's three public colleges - Federal City College, D.C. Teachers College and Washington Technical Institute.
He was selected over 141 applicants and three other finalists, including Cleveland Dennard, the president of WTI. Dennard reportedly was strongly supported by some persons on the 16-member board for the university post but more favored Bromery.
Ronald Brown, chairman of the university trustees, said that both Dennard and Wendell P. Russell, the president of Federal City College and D.C. Teachers, would be leaving their posts when the merger takes place in August. Neither man could be reached last night do discuss his plans.
The new university will have about 13,000 students, 2,200 employees, and an annual budget of $51 million. It recently has been the focus of a serious dispute over academic standards and over whether it should emphasize liberal arts or vocational programs.
Yesterday Bromery said the university should continue to offer both types of programs, but he said it should try to develop a top-flight reputation in rigorous academic fields, particularly in science.
"I am a firm disciple of Dr. W.E.B. DuBois," he said, "and his belief that every nation, every group of people is always going to be measured by their talented tenth, and that we as black people are going to be measured by those who have achieved and have reached the pinnacle, although we should not forget the others."
Enrollment at the three public colleges now is about 95 per cent black. The colleges have an open-admissions policy and accept any high school graduate regardless of grades or test scores.
Bromery said this policy of "taking high risks" should be continued. But he added, "Strong, unbending exit requirements must be set and they must be adhered to.
"There has to be a perception of quality about the university," Bromery said. "The way to develop it is not just to tell people that things have changed but to impose high standards for graduation."
At the University of Massachusets Bromery has headed a campus with 25,000 students, the largest in the state.The annual budget for the Amherst campus is $140 million.
The enrollment is about 95 per cent white, and Bromery is one of only a handful of blacks in the country to head a predominantly white university.
When he went to the University of Massachusetts in 1967 as an associate professor of geophysics, Bromery said he was the sixth black on the faculty and that the university had only 35 black students. He said it now has 83 black faculty members and about 1,100 black students.
He was appointed professor in 1969, became vice chancellor for student affairs in 1970, and was named acting chancellor in 1971. He was formally named chancellor in 1972.
Although the university has been involved in serious disputes over its budget, student fees and housing. Bromery has largely stayed out of controversy.
In 1975, an aide of Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis criticized Bromery for chartering a private plane to travel 100 miles to university trustees meetings in Boston. Bromery defended the flights as a "prudent management decision" but stopped making them because of the political furor, and resumed driving to Boston, which he said takes over four hours for a round trip.
"Bromery comes across as quiet and confident," said one observer in Massachusetts. "He's low-key and low-pro-
Before going to the University of Massachusetts, he worked in Washington for 21 years for the U.S. Geological Survey; published more than 145 maps and scientific papers, and became an expert in airborne geophysical techniques.
Bromery was born and reared in Cumberland, Md., where his father was the maitre d' of a hotel restaurant and later a janitor. After serving in the Air Force in World War II, he attended the University of Michigan for two years and then transferred to Howard University here. Bromery said he finished all his academic requirements but not a physical education requirement in 1948.
He said he did not complete that requirement until 1956, when he received his bachelor's degree. In 1962, he received a master's degree in geology from American University, and in 1967 a doctorate in that field from Johns Hopkins University.
In an interview in the Boston Globe in 1972, Bromery said that for most of his career he had been the only black person in the field in which he was working.
"It was extremely lonely," he said, "being the only black here, or one of only a few there, being a black among a throng working in a non-black job." But he said it taught him "to try to be the best there is in my field."