Dr. William Madison Randall Papers
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In 1924, Randall enrolled in Hartford Theological Seminary to begin work on his Ph.D. During this time, he was invited to serve as a member of a committee for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, tasked with the project of reorganizing and cataloging the Vatican Library. Randall graduated summa cum laude with a Ph.D in Islamic Philosphy in 1929 and began his first professional job as Associate Professor of Library Science at the University of Chicago. He remained with the university until 1942, becoming Professor in 1932 and Assistant Dean of Students in 1938. While in Chicago, Randall authored several books in the Library Science field and founded Library Quarterly, a scholarly journal still published today. He also traveled to the Middle East twice on fellowships to research Arabic manuscripts.
In 1942, Randall entered the service and was commissioned a Major in the U.S. Army Air Force. He was first sent to Cairo, Egypt as a liaison officer with the British for the Air Transport Command and then to Accra to assist in the organization of the African branch of the Command. He became an intelligence agent with the War Department in 1943 and was transferred back to Cairo. Randall was tasked with keeping the Pentagon and President Roosevelt up to date on information in the Middle East during the war. Over the years, he was promoted to Lieutenant colonel and eventually Colonel in the Air Force.
After the war was over, Randall went to work for a friend as Vice president of a metal products company called Snead Stack Company in Orange, Virginia. He remained with the company for two years before returning to academia as Director of Student Affairs and Director of Libraries at the University of Georgia. In 1948, Randall was asked to serve as Academic Dean of the Merchant Marine Academy to help the new four-year college become accredited. It took two years for the college to become accredited and in 1951, Randall quit with the intention of taking a year off to pursue his own research.
In September of 1951, Randall and his wife were travelling south to Savannah to visit their son David when they were involved in a car accident about ten miles outside of Wilmington. They were taken to James Walker Memorial Hospital where news of the accident and Randall's accomplished career spread across town. After a visit from John T. Hoggard, Randall was appointed Dean of Wilmington College. At that time, the college was a two-year program located in the old Isaac Bear building on Market St. During the beginning of Randall's career in Wilmington, the college began to grow and in 1957, the Community College act was passed. This act allowed the college to become a state institution and authorized local bond issues to be matched by state funds as well as allowed the state to gradually take over the cost of operations from the local community. It is because of this act, that in 1958 after a bond issue vote, the college was able to buy 610 acres of land for a new campus.
Randall began planning for the first three buildings on the new campus in 1959 and classes officially began in 1961. A couple of years later, Wilmington College was authorized by the North Carolina Board of Higher Education to become a four year college and the first class graduated in 1965. It was in 1967 that Randall reached the pinnacle of his career when the college became a fully accredited four year university. He had an unspoken agreement with the Board of Trustees, that when the college became accredited, he would retire and he did so in 1968. Randall remained with the university, teaching modern languages and arabic courses. In 1969, the newly built library was named after Randall and in 1971 he was conferred President Emeritus.
Randall married Myldred Randolph Cady in 1924 and the couple had two children, William D. and Duncan P. Randall. Myldred died in 1953 and Randall married Mary Johnson McGee in 1954. Mary had a son, Robert McGee, from a previous marriage. Randall was involved in many civic activities including the Wilmington Rotary Club, serving as it's president at one time. He was also a member of St. James Episcopal Church. William Randall died on May 13, 1984 and is buried in the Wilmington National Cemetery.
6.5 Linear Feet (Contains 15 document boxes, 3 oversize boxes, and 1 artifact box)
- Dr. William Madison Randall Papers
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