Our Rectors

LEONĪDS RIBICKIS

1947

Professor of Power and Electrical Engineering
Academician of the Latvian Academy of Sciences (2007)
Member of EU Universities of Small States Association (2011)
Rector (since 2011)

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Almost the entire working life of L. Ribickis after his graduation from RPI, except less than five years spent at Riga Wagon Manufacturing Factory, is connected with RTU: first as a member of academic personnel, later as the Director of the Institute of Industrial Electronics and Electrical Engineering, and then as the Vice-Rector for Research. Professor worked for 11 years in that capacity.

Becoming the Rector, L. Ribickis set the new aim of RTU: to become the third generation university that along with research and educational activities sees establishment of research-intensive enterprises as its third priority.

L. Ribickis actively supports amateur artistic activities and sports. For many years he had been singing in RTU male choir Gaudeamus and was the President of the choir, he was keen on shooting sport and badminton, served in the Latvian National Guard (Zemessardze) as a non-combatant sergeant.  

Students recognize that professor L. Ribickis is a true authority for them.

Born in Lielstraupe Parish.

  • 28 December 2010 Academician Leonīds Ribickis is elected Rector of RTU.
  • 27 April 2011 RTU Cesis Branch is opened.
  • 27 September 2011 After several decade long period of interruption, the development of a united territorial complex of RTU in Ķīpsala is restarted: a capsule with a letter to future generations is immured in the foundation of the first reconstructed building.
  • 14 October 2011 The year of RTU 150th Anniversary is officially announced.
  • 21 December 2015 Academician Leonīds Ribickis is repeatedly elected Rector of RTU.

Ivars Knēts

1938

Professor of Material Mechanics
Academician of the Latvian Academy of Sciences (1992)
Full Member of the European Science and Art Academy (1999)
Honorary Doctor of Riga Stradiņš University (2000)
Rector (1999–2011)

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Since 1987 I. Knēts was RPI Vice-Rector for Research. Acceding to Rector’s office, I. Knēts had to do his utmost to ensure that many study programs as well as the university as a whole successfully undergo international accreditation, he also had to work out a development strategy of RTU.

Thanks to purposeful organizational activities and application of co-financing provided by the EU structural funds, the number of researchers grew significantly and various events promoting importance of scientific research were organized.

Development of a positive image of the university was one of the priorities of I. Knēts. He always stressed, «The name of RTU should be known in the world!»

Born in Riga.

  • 22 November 1999 Professor Ivars Knēts is elected Rector of RTU.
  • 10 December 1999 A solemn ceremony dedicated to opening of a newly erected building of RTU Scientific Library is held in Ķīpsala.
  • 14 February 2002 For the first time in history an agreement between the Ministry of Education and Science and RTU is signed. It stipulates the number of students to be educated and trained on state budget funds and the volume of state budget funds allocated to the university.
  • 14 October 2002 RTU celebrates its 140th Anniversary.
  • 15 November 2002 Professor Ivars Knēts is repeatedly elected Rector of RTU.
  • 7 August 2006 The Rector signs a resolution requiring obligatory attendance from the first year students.
  • 23 April 2007 The Senate decides to approve the long-term strategic aim of RTU – development of a unified territorial complex of RTU in Ķīpsala and its vicinity.

Egons Lavendelis

1934

Professor of Mechanics
Academician of the Latvian Academy of Sciences
Rector (1985–1990; 1990–1999)

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E. Lavendelis was the last Rector of RPI and the first Rector of RTU elected by means of a democratic election procedure. His first years in the capacity of the Rector coincided with the time of radical change – democratic changes and the third Latvian National Awakening movement.

RPI became the largest tertiary education establishment in the Baltic republics (14,000 students) and a significant research center. Since re-establishment of independence of Latvia, significant changes occurred also in the contents and organization of the study programs – RTU introduced Bachelor, Engineer and Master education levels.

Since 1992, during E. Lavendelis term of office RTU alumni started to receive diplomas issued by the Republic of Latvia.

Born in Riga.

  • 1 September 1985 Professor Egons Lavendelis is appointed Rector of RPI.
  • 19 March1990 RPI changes its name to Riga Technical University (RTU).
  • 24 October 1990 The current Rector Professor Egons Lavendelis is elected Rector of RTU.
  • 19 March 1990 National Students Parliament of RTU starts its work, later it is renamed RTU Students Parliament.
  • 14 October 1990 130th Anniversary of RPI/RTU is celebrated. Rector’s chain becomes an essential element of Rector’s regalia.
  • 27 September 1993 RTU Advisory Board is established.
    The Senate decides to announce 14 October, the day of establishment of the high school, a day to be officially celebrated at RTU.  
  • 3 May1994 E. Lavendelis is repeatedly elected Rector.
  • 2 October 1997 L. J. Freijs and O. V. Freijs donate 6 ha of land in Klapkalnciems (location of the recreation base «Ronīši») to RTU.
  • September 1999 RTU units leave the building at 1a Kaļķu Street. A reconstructed City Hall is built in its place.

Aleksandrs Veiss

1918–1985

Professor of Chemistry
Corresponding Member of the Latvian Academy of Sciences (1975)
Rector (1963–1985)

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Working at the Faculty of Chemistry since 1947, going a long way from a laboratory assistant to the faculty Dean and RPI Vice-Rector for Studies, A. Veiss acquired and developed administrative skills most appropriate in the context of tertiary education. He tried to be reasonable and did not suggest unfeasible ideas, but immediately started implementing those which could potentially be realized.

Talking about A. Veiss, Academician J. Stradiņš noted, «Aleksandr Veiss was the Great Rector of the Institute. He was a thoughtful leader and educator of the youth.»

In the mid-1960s the number of students and academic staff significantly increased. Rector’s vision was to develop a united institute campus in Ķīpsala. During his term of office many faculty buildings as well as student hostel and student canteen were erected and put into operation. A lifetime dream of the Rectors started coming to life – construction of Ķīpsala Swimming Pool was initiated.

During A. Veiss term of office extra-curricular activities were promoted and supported: artistic amateur groups, sports, student construction brigades.

Born in Moscow. Buried in the Matīsa Cemetery.

  • 28 September 1963 Professor Aleksandr Veiss is appointed Rector of RPI.
  • Summer 1964 RPI Student Construction Brigade is established, students go to work to Kazakhstan.
  • 1965 Construction of the first institute buildings in Ķīpsala begins.
  • 1971 Construction of summer sports and recreation base «Ronīši» begins.
  • 1979 Construction of RPI swimming pool begins.

Aleksandrs Mālmeisters

1911–1996

Professor of Materials Mechanics
Academician of the Latvian Academy of Sciences (1958), Corresponding Member of the USSR Academy of Sciences (1970)
Rector (1961–1963)

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It is difficult to unequivocally assess Professor’s contribution to the field of technical tertiary education. In 1950, LSU Faculty of Architecture was liquidated on his initiative.

Although A. Mālmeisters did not consider his work at the helm of the Institute as a priority, he was a recognized scientist. His role in establishing the research school in the field of mechanics of polymer and composite materials and biomechanics in Latvia cannot be underestimated.

Assessing A. Mālmeister’s contribution to the work of the Academy of Sciences of LSSR, Academician J. Stradiņš pointed out, «... it is possible that the greatest achievements in the work of the Academy of Sciences were made at that time, however, his actions stirred very controversial feelings.»

Born in Pēterupes Parish of Riga District. Died in Riga, buried in the 1st Forest Cemetery.

  • 16 March 1961 Professor A. Mālmeisters is appointed Rector of RPI.
  • Spring 1962 In terms of number of students RPI becomes the largest high school in Latvia.
  • 23 October 1962 Construction of new laboratory buildings at 1a Lenin Street is started. Department of Doctoral Studies starts its work.
    100th Anniversary of the high school is celebrated.
  • 29 July 1963 Professor A. Mālmeisters moves to work to the Academy of Sciences of LSSR.

Kristaps Neilands

1898–1960

Professor of Mechanical Engineering
Corresponding Member of the Latvian Academy of Sciences (1958)
The 1st Rector of the Renewed RPI (1958–1960)

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K. Neiland’s term of office was short.

During World War II Professor received high state awards for development of the armor of T-34 type tanks, however, his nationality and «Germanic» surname were the reasons  why he was excluded from the list of Stalin Prize Laureates.

K. Neilands deserved respect from his subordinates due to his reasonable, empathetic and moderate management style. He became the leading personality in education and research of the time. He was personally involved in reestablishing the work of RPI – this is the most significant contribution of Kristaps Neilands.

Born in Jelgava. Died in Riga, buried in the 1st Forest Cemetery.

  • 14 June 1958 USSR Council of Ministers issues a resolution to renew the work of Riga Polytechnic Institute starting with 1 September 1958, handing over a newly erected building at 1 Lenin (Kaļķu) Street to the Institute disposal.
  • 26 June 1958 LSU professor Kristaps Neilands is appointed Director of RPI.
  • 11 July 1958 RPI is reestablished on the basis of four technical faculties of Latvian State University (LSU).
  • 1 September 1958 Students and academic personnel of the technical faculties of LSU are transferred to the reestablished RPI.
  • October 1958 RPI Sports Club is founded.
  • 7 February 1959 The 1st issue of the newspaper «Jaunais Inženieris» (Young Engineer) is published.
  • 19 March 1959 Students Club is established.
  • Academic year 1959/60 Applicants are enrolled to new study programs that envision advanced practical training of the students. (Full time students are now enrolled to two flows: with at least two years of work experience – «experienced» and without work experience – «inexperienced»).

Voldemārs fon Knīrīms (Woldemar von Knieriem)

1849–1935

Professor of Agriculture
Director (1906–1916)

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Before becoming the Rector, V. von Knieriem was the Director of an instructional and research farm «Pētermuiža», where he resided with his family, and the Head of RPI Department of Agriculture. Two of his elder daughters married agronomists, but his younger daughter Elizabeth Sofia, fleeing from Tsar’s government repressions, moved to Stockholm and married Mr. Palme. Their son Olaf Palme became the Prime Minister of Sweden. In his childhood, O. Palme spent summers at his grandparents the Knieriems in Latvia.

In his communication with students V. von Knieriem was friendly and warm-hearted, his lectures were straightforward, comprehensible and demonstrative. Professor’s family often dined with students.

Born in Mūrmuiža next to Valmiera. Died in Riga, buried in the Great Cemetery.

  • March 1906  Professor Woldemar von Knieriem is elected Director of Riga Polytechnic Institute.
  • Autumn 1910 Construction of the 4th building of RPI headquarters is finished in Arhitektu Street.
    RPI Alumni Association is founded.
  • September 1912 10,000th student is enrolled to the Institute.
  • October 2 1912 The Institute celebrates its 50th Anniversary. 
  • 12 October 1915 RPI starts its work in Moscow.

Pauls Valdens

1863–1957

Professor of Chemistry
Full Member of Seven Academies of Sciences of Different Countries, Honorary Doctor of Four Universities
Director (1902–1905; 1917–1919)

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The first term of office of P. Walden as the Director of RPI occurred during the events of 1905 (a wave of mass political and social unrest), and the Director tried to take a compromise position. He later wrote, «Young people were right in a sense that many aspects of the work of the institution needed to be changed. Academic staff had to initiate changes and implement reforms to promote a more open and efficient cooperation, which young revolutionaries strived for.»

At that time P. Walden suggested many initiatives to improve the work of the Institute, but almost all of them could not pass through bureaucratic hurdles.

There is a version that P. Walden’s resignation was connected with his refusal to report on the students who participated in disorders to Tsar’s police (ohranka).

During his second term of office as the Director, P. Walden ensured Institute’s activities during World War I and organized its evacuation to Moscow, as well as its further re-evacuation to Riga.

Born in Rozula Parish. Died and buried in Gammertingen, Germany.

First term of office 

  • April 1902 Professor Paul Walden is elected Director of Riga Polytechnic Institute.
  • 1903 The Institute introduces the title of the Honorary Member. Professor Wilhelm Ostwald is elected the first Honorary Member of RPI.
  • 1 January 1906 Paul Walden resigns from the post of the Director.

Second term of office

  • 1 January 1917 Professor Paul Walden is elected Director of Riga Polytechnic Institute for the second time.
    First female students are enrolled for studies at the Institute in March, among them Iris Walden, Director’s daughter.
  • 26 July 1917 The Director of the Institute is further on called the Rector, his assistant – the Vice-Rector.
  • 6 August 1918 Ivanovovoznesensk Polytechnic Institute is established on the basis of RPI resource base and using expertise of RPI staff.
    Partial re-evacuation of RPI to Riga is carried out.  
    Professor Paul Walden resigns from the post of the Rector.

Teodors Grēnbergs (Theodor Groenberg)

1845–1910

Professor of Physics
Director (1891–1902)

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T. Grönberg gained respect from his colleagues working as a professor of physics at Riga Polytechnicum for more than 10 years, and later as the Head of the Department of Commerce and Vice-Director. He was highly appreciated by P. Walden – once assistant of the Professor and future Director of RPI.

Students highly esteemed T. Grönberg – for many years after graduation they remembered interesting and exciting lectures delivered by Professor. In his capacity of the Director, T. Grönberg demonstrated caution and astuteness during a difficult period of reorganization, when Riga Polytechnicum was turned into Riga Polytechnic Institute with Russian as the language of instruction.

Born in Kiev Governorate. Died and buried in Freiburg, Germany.

  • September 1891 Theodor Grönberg is elected Director of Riga Polytechnicum.
  • 29 September 1892 The government issues a decree on adopting Russian as the language of instruction.
  • 6–18 May 1896 Russian Tsar Nicolay II approves new statutes of the high school and the list of employees, endorsing instruction in the Russian language and granting all rights of a state tertiary education establishment – the high school becomes Riga Polytechnic Institute (RPI).

Augusts Kārlis Līventāls (August Karl Lieventhal)

1844–1900

Professor of Economy
Director (1886–1991)

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For many years K. A. Lieventhal was the Head of the Department of Commerce of Riga Polytechnicum, later he was the Vice-Director of the school. Under his lead, educational resource base of the Polytechnicum was significantly improved, new modern laboratories were equipped, education of strong current electrical engineers was started for the first time in the territory of the Russian Empire.

A future Nobel Prize Laureate Wilhelm Ostwald and the founder of the theory of electrical machines Engelbert Arnold worked at the Polytechnicum during K. A. Lieventhal’s term of office.

Born in Biržu Parish in the family of a Latvian poet and educator Ansis Lieventhal. Died in Riga, buried in the Great Cemetery.

  • January 1886 August Karl Lieventhal is elected Director of Riga Polytechnicum.
  • 2 October 1887 The high school celebrates its 25th Anniversary.  

Gustavs fon Kīzerickis (Gustav von Kieseritzky)

1830–1896

Professor of Mathematics
Director (1875–1985)

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G. Kieseritzky was known as a tough leader with a perfect memory – he knew every student by name given that their number increased from 200 to 700 in the period from 1875 to1885. As soon as Professor started a lecture, no student was allowed to enter the lecture room. If anyone still tried, Professor shouted, «Tür zu – von aussen!» (German: Close the door – from outside!). However, everybody knew that external crudity hided the heart of gold and genuine pleasure about the success of others.

Born in Cēsis. Died in Riga, buried in the Great Cemetery.

  • February 1875 Gustav von Kieseritzky is elected Director of Riga Polytechnicum.
    A detention room is established in the high school following the Western university pattern. Students are detained for disciplinary infractions (fighting, smoking, excessive alcohol use, dignitary harm, obscenities, etc).
  • Autumn 1877 The second building of the high school is erected along Pauluči Street (currently Merķeļa Street).
  • October 1885 G. Kieseritzky resigns from the post of the Director.

Ernsts Nauks (Ernst Nauck)

1819–1875

Professor of Physics, Chemistry and Mineralogy
The First Director of Riga Polytechnicum (1862–1875)

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E. Nauck developed the structure of the newly established high school, designed programs of all departments and staffed the high school. He was the only head of the high school with education in pedagogy. Being very responsive, E. Nauck put slightly higher marks at the exams than deserved, so that any student would feel he was appreciated fairly. In both his public activities and communication with students professor was respectful, open and modest, people liked him for his good temper and humor.

E. Nauck was enthusiastic about piano playing and chess – he even died during the game of chess with Governor General of Riga Pyotr Bagration.

Born in Auerstedt, Germany.  Died in Riga, buried in the Great Cemetery.

  • January 1862 E. Nauck comes to Riga from Germany to take on the responsibilities of the Director of Riga Polytechnicum.
  • Autumn 1862 Studies at Riga Polytechnicum commence, they are implemented in German.
  • June 1865 First final examinations in the history of the high school are held, two graduates receive their diplomas.
  • 1869 Studies continue in a newly erected building at 19 Troņmantnieka Boulevard (at present Raiņa Boulevard).

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