Encyclopedia Brunoniana

Randall, Otis E.

Otis Everett Randall (1860-1946), professor of mechanical drawing and dean of the University, was born in North Stonington, Connecticut, on February 28, 1860. When he graduated from Brown in 1884, his ambition was to be a professor of classics. He taught for one year at the Providence High School and then became a mathematics instructor at Brown. He earned a Ph.D. degree in 1896 and studied in Germany in 1899-1900. He was assistant professor of mathematics and civil engineering in 1891-92, associate professor of mechanical drawing from 1892 to 1896, and professor of applied mechanics from 1896 until his retirement in 1930. His publications include Directions in Regard to the Construction of Plates in Mechanical Drawing in 1895, Shades and Shadows in Perspective in 1902, and a textbook, Elements of Descriptive Geometry, in 1912. He was named dean of the University when Alexander Meiklejohn left to become president of Amherst College in 1912. He believed that college teachers were underpaid, that the evils of football were exaggerated, and that daily compulsory chapel should be replaced by optional weekly services and less frequent compulsory student assemblies. He was also against the Eighteenth Amendment, which he felt was responsible for increased drinking in the colleges. In June 1929 he began a sabbatical leave prior to his retirement the next year. At the 1930 Commencement the Brown Club of Chicago presented a portrait of Randall painted by Howard E. Smith of Boston to the University. After his retirement he remained active in educational circles and was elected president of the New England Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools in 1933. He wrote a book, The Dean’s Window, based on his experiences and observations in his seventeen years as dean, which covered a multitude of topics relating to students and alumni, and reflected his view of his office, of which he said he would have found the duties “most irksome if they had been wholly disciplinary, and robbed me of the opportunity which I prized above all others – of playing the part of the ‘big brother.’” In 1935 he embarked on what he considered the most interesting educational venture of his life, when he became chairman of the advisory committee of the Delphian Society, an organization of over 300,000 American women who were pursuing self-education with textbooks published by the Society. He died on August 11, 1946 in Providence.