We are presenting biographical notes of the University of Lodz Rectors, who used to hold this position during the terms from the founding of the university until 2020. The Rectors' biographical notes are based on a book by Wiesław Puś entitled "Zarys historii Uniwersytetu Łódzkiego 1945-2020" [An Outline of the History of the University of Lodz 1945-2020] (Edition II. Lodz: Lodz University Press) and own sources of the University of Lodz.
The portraits of the Rectors are hanging on the walls of the Senate Hall of the University of Lodz, the University of Lodz Rector's Office building at Narutowicza 68. In accordance with academic tradition, portraits of the Rectors are painted after their last tenure comes to an end.
PROFESSOR TADEUSZ KOTARBIŃSKI
Prof. Tadeusz Kotarbiński was the First Rector of the University of Lodz. Thanks to his efforts the university achieved a significant position after the war. The new university brought together a large number of important scholars and became a place of study for the multitude of young people who, after the years of occupation, got a chance to obtain higher education.
Professor Kotarbiński was an advocate of a liberal university, where the guiding slogan of academic research and lecturing is "freedom and truth". As a mentor and educator of young people, he worked with the student youth and their organisations.
He published almost 700 scientific works, including those which are extremely important for Polish philosophy and humanities. Among his many publications, "Traktat o dobrej robocie" [A Treatise on Good Work] is particularly noteworthy.
PROFESSOR JÓZEF CHAŁASIŃKI
Prof. Dr hab. Józef Chałasiński was one of the most eminent Polish sociologists. His scientific output includes several hundred publications. He was a member of numerous national and international scientific societies. He repeatedly represented Polish science at world congresses. As early as 1948, he became a corresponding member of the Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences, a full member of the Polish Academy of Sciences (PAN) and a member of the Presidium of the PAN. He was also a member of the International Social Science Council (ISSC) and the Presidium of Polish National Commission for UNESCO.
As a Rector, he wanted to implement his vision of a "socialised university". Unfortunately, by decision of the ministerial authorities of the time, the University of Lodz was to become a university, exclusively of a vocational nature. All humanities courses were abolished, including sociology and philosophy, which were so important to Prof. Chałasinski.
PROFESSOR JAN SZCZEPAŃSKI
Professor Jan Szczepański, at the time aged 39, was the youngest Rector in the history of our university. During his tenure as Rector, thanks to the inclusion of the State Higher School of Pedagogy, the University of Lodz was strengthened in terms of staff. This also increased the number of students. In 1955, he obtained approval for one of his most important investments, i.e. the construction of the University Library.
Prof. Szczepański was a scholar with a high scientific position in the world. As a Chairman, he led the work of the International Sociological Association from 1966 to 1970 and later became an honorary member of the association. He was a member of many foreign scientific corporations. He published more than 1,500 works in print. To a large extent, these are articles and contributions addressed to a wide audience, in which he expressed his own opinions and personal reflections on matters important to Polish society.
PROFESSOR ADAM SZPUNAR
Professor Adam Szpunar served as a Rector of the University of Lodz for two terms. In the history of the University of Lodz, this was the period of its rebuilding after the crisis between 1951-1955. Thanks to skillful interventions at the Ministry, Rector Szpunar was able to relaunch the humanities study programmes that had been abolished in the 1950s. He implemented the process of integrating the State Higher School of Pedagogy and the Higher School of Economics into the structures of the University of Lodz. During his both tenures, the modern University Library building was built and opened.
The University of Lodz community owes Rector Adam Szpunar the introduction of traditional academic ceremonies (rector and dean's togas and insignia), as well as the doctoral oath.
Prof. Szpunar published over 500 papers, including 23 monographs. His work covers essentially all areas of civil law. In addition to his activity in the scientific community, Prof. Szpunar was involved in legislative work. He participated in the work of the Codification Commission that developed the Civil Code and in the Civil Law Reform Commission.
PROFESSOR STEFAN HRABEC
Professor Stefan Hrabec was the first party Rector of the University of Lodz. In addition to his activity in the Polish United Workers' Party (in Polish: Polska Zjednoczona Partia Robotnicza, PZPR), he was active in thePolish Teachers’ Union as a Chairman of the Works Council. Despite being a member of the PZPR, as a Rector of the University of Lodz he did not manage to obtain much-needed investment for the university.
Professor Hrabec was an eminent linguist and an organiser and an animator of scientific research. He was a Chairman of the Polish and Slavonic Philology Expert Group, a member of the Presidium of the Institute of Slavic Studies of the Polish Academy of Sciences, a member of the Committee on Linguistics, Polish Academy of Sciences.
PROFESSOR JÓZEF STANISŁAW PIĄTOWSKI
During the tenure of Rector Stanislaw Piątowski, a new building of the Faculty of Biology and Earth Sciences was constructed at the University of Lodz. One wing was added to the building of the Faculty of Economics and Sociology, and two more dormitories were built on the premises of the student campus at Lumumby. The university was also growing rapidly in terms of its staff.
Prof. Piątowski focused on the theory and philosophy of law and issues in the area of the history of Polish law. After obtaining his PhD degree, he dealt with civil law issues.
PROFESSOR WITOLD JANOWSKI
After Rector Piątowski left the university, Prof. Witold Janowski was appointed Acting Rector of the University of Lodz. He held this post from 10 April 1968 to 30 September 1968. Despite receiving the nomination for the post of the Rector of the University of Lodz from the Minister Jabłoński in early September, he turned down the offer.
Prof. Janowski's research interests mainly included extreme issues of the geometric theory of analytic functions. He was in constant touch with eminent mathematicians from abroad thanks to his participation in scientific conferences, where he presented his own achievements and those of the Lodz school of analytic functions.
PROFESSOR ANDRZEJ NADOLSKI
Prof. Andrzej Nadolski was appointed Rector of the University of Lodz after Prof. Janowski resigned from this function in the difficult period of 1968. However, after a one-year term, due to the difficult political situation, he did not want to get appointed for the term 1969-1972.
Professor Andrzej Nadolski studied archaeology and medieval history. He was an eminent military historian. His publishing output includes more than 200 publications, including around 20 articles which were published abroad.
Prof. Nadolski was also an excellent populariser of history and archaeology. He cooperated with Aleksander Ford during the making of the film entitled "Krzyżacy" [Knights of the Teutonic Order] between 1958 and 1960 – he was an expert on armament. He participated as an expert in the exhumation work of Polish officers murdered by the People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs (NKVD) and buried near Kharkov, where his father Colonel Jerzy Nadolski was killed.
PROFESSOR ZDZISŁAW SKWARCZYŃSKI
Professor Zdzisław Skwarczyński was appointed Rector of the University of Lodz for the term 1969-1972. It was, after the events of 1968, which was a difficult time. However, it should be emphasised that Rector Skwarczyński skilfully managed the university's affairs. The Mathematics Institute building was completed, as well as the building of Accounting Techniques at the Faculty of Economics and Sociology. Rector Skwarczyński obtained the consent of the authorities of the City of Lodz to transfer the building at Kościuszki 65 to the University of Lodz. This came a little later, but it should be remembered that the Faculty of Philology received the building precisely thanks to Rector Skwarczyński.
His scholarly works cover a broad field of interests from the Enlightenment to the contemporary literature. He was a member of the Committee on Literature Studies of the Polish Academy of Sciences and a member of the Scientific Council of the Institute of Literary Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences.
PROFESSOR JANUSZ GÓRSKI
As a Rector of the University of Lodz, Prof. Janusz Górski played an important role in the history of the university. Prof. Górski's idea was the so-called open university, i.e. education outside the academic centre. Thanks to this initiative, consultation points were set up in the cities of the Lodz region, where specialists in administration and business studies as well as teachers were trained. During his tenure as Rector, academics from many faculties of the University of Lodz became involved in collaborative research, the so-called departmental and centrally applied research. The university's activity in terms of international cooperation increased, not only with universities from socialist countries, but also with the Western ones.
When it comes to research, he was an outstanding specialist in the Polish history and the general economic thought. He also dealt with the political economy of socialism and capitalism, as well as on economic growth theory and economic policy. His scientific output includes more than 200 publications. He was actively involved in various scientific, science popularisation and business-related organisations.
PROFESSOR ROMUALD SKOWROŃSKI
University of Lodz developed dynamically when Professor Romuald Skowroński was its Rector (two terms of office). The premises, fixed assets and scientific and research apparatus were extended. The number of students rose to 19,000 and staff to 4,000. Further expansion of international cooperation took place, with more than 20 direct scientific cooperation and researcher exchange agreements signed with European and American universities during this period. The direct cooperation agreement with Germany's Justus Liebig University in Giessen, which was signed in 1978, constitutes a model example.
At the time of the longest student strike in history in January and February 1981, the Rector turned out to be an excellent negotiator and, at the same time, a protector of student youth. As the strike participants recall him: "even though he was sitting on Minister Górski’s side, we felt that he was with us".
He was a member of the General Council of the Ministry of Science, Higher Education and Technology for two terms, and chaired the Commission of Exact Sciences of the Ministry of Education. When he was a Rector, he also chaired the Conference of Rectors of Higher Education Institutions in Lodz. He was a member of the Committee of Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences and a member of the Scientific Council of the Branch of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Lodz.
PROFESSOR JERZY WRÓBLEWSKI
Rector Jerzy Wróblewski led the University of Lodz during martial law. On 14-15 December 1981, he was extremely energetic in his efforts to lobby the political and administrative authorities in Lodz for lenient treatment of students on strike at the Faculty of Law and Administration.
Professor Wróblewski took an active part in the work of state institutions. He was a judge at the State Tribunal, an expert of the Sejm's Committee on Legislative Work and a member of the Codification Committee for the Law on Higher Education. In 1987, he received an offer from the Council of State of the People's Republic of Poland to be elected as the first Ombudsman, but after a long hesitation he decided not to accept it.
Professor Wróblewski had a huge scientific output of more than 800 publications, including more than 100 ones in foreign languages. His research interests focused on the methodology and philosophy of jurisprudence, theories of interpretation and application of law, contemporary political and legal doctrines. Professor Wróblewski actively participated in the work of numerous institutes and committees of the Polish Academy of Sciences. He was active in many national and international scientific societies.
PROFESSOR LESZEK WOJTCZAK
Professor Leszek Wojtczak was twice elected Rector of the University of Lodz. Although these were the years after the period of martial law, political pressures on the university environment still persisted. Rector Wojtczak was able to strongly resist attempts to influence the internal affairs of the University of Lodz. At difficult moments, he supported students who demanded political change (in 1988) and just before the June elections in 1989.
In 1989, the rectors of universities in Poland entrusted Professor Leszek Wojtczak with the chairmanship of the reactivated Conference of Rectors of Polish Universities.
During both his tenures as Rector, expanding international cooperation was one of the priorities. Thanks to his support, the Centre for European Studies was established at the University of Lodz.
Scientific research by Prof. Wojtczak included, inter alia, issues of statistical theory of the atom and its applications to the theory of electrochemical phase boundary and the functional description of biological membranes. He has collaborated with numerous foreign centres. He reviewed more than 200 doctoral and postdoctoral theses and professorial applications in Poland, France and the Czech Republic.
PROFESSOR MICHAŁ SEWERYŃSKI
The Electoral Board of the University of Lodz elected Prof. Michał Seweryński to the be Rector of the University of Lodz twice for the term 1990-1993 and for the term 1993-1996. As the University of Lodz Rector, he played an outstanding role in transforming the structure of the university after the political changes of 1989-1990. During his tenures as Rector, he was elected President of the Conference of Rectors of Polish Universities. At that time he was also a Chairman of the Conference of Rectors of Polish Universities in Lodz. He was also a Chairman of the Government Labour Law Reform Commission, a member of the Legislative Council at the Chairman of the Council of Ministers, member of the Papal Council for Secular Affairs, Honorary Consul of France in Lodz. In the governments of Prime Minister Marcinkiewicz and Prime Minister Kaczyński, he was the Minister of National Education and Minister of Science and Higher Education.
Professor Seweryński has been active in research and teaching abroad for many years. He has repeatedly been a general speaker at European and world congresses on labour and social security law, and comparative law. He is a member of many foreign scientific societies, including: International Society for Labour and Social Security Law, based in Geneva, which is the most important international association of labour and social security law.
PROFESSOR STANISŁAW LISZEWSKI
Prof. Stanislaw Liszewski led the University of Lodz for two terms. It was a time of dynamic development for the university. Around thirty teaching, administrative and dormitory buildings were built and renovated to serve the needs of the university community. Rector Liszewski's election slogan "building the University of Lodz" was brilliantly implemented. Due to the growing interest of young people from the region of Lodz in studies, a branch of the University of Lodz in Tomaszow Mazowiecki was established, as well as a number of offsite centres. University of Lodz was developing very dynamically in terms of research, teaching and material. This made it possible for it to occupy a high position among Polish universities. During his tenures as Rector, he was elected President of the Conference of Rectors of Polish Universities in Lodz.
Prof. Liszewski's research interests focused on issues related to transport geography, urban geography and tourism geography. He actively participated in the work of scientific societies and organisations.
PROFESSOR WIESŁAW PUŚ
During his tenure as Rector, Prof. Wiesław Puś continued the process of "building the university". The long-awaited building as part of the extension of the University of Lodz Library and the modern building of the Faculty of Law and Administration were constructed during this period. Additionally, general renovations were carried out in many teaching facilities and dormitories.
Earlier, as Vice-Rector for Teaching during Rector Liszewski's tenure, he introduced a mandatory evaluation of teaching staff by the University of Lodz students. He took an active part in the establishment and activities of the University Accreditation Committee, which was appointed by the Conference of Rectors of Polish Universities in 1998. He was one of the initiators of the exclusion of the departments of pedagogy and psychology from the Faculty of Philosophy and History and the establishment of the new Faculty of Educational Sciences.
Research interests of Prof. Wiesław Puś include the history of industrial cities and formation of urban-industrial agglomerations. He has also been dealing with the history of the Jews of Lodz, with particular emphasis on their role in economic life. He has been a reviewer of, among other things, 15 doctoral dissertations, 10 post-doctoral dissertations and reviewed scientific output nine times as part of the procedure for conferring the title of Professor. He was also a super-reviewer for the Central Commission for Academic Degrees and Titles.
PROFESSOR WŁODZIMIERZ NYKIEL
Prof. Włodzimierz Nykiel, as a Rector, carried out a profound financial reform of the university through its decentralisation, thanks to which the University of Lodz continues to remain in a good economic shape. He continued the process of expanding and modernising the university.
In 2008 and 2012, he was twice elected president of the Conference of Rectors of Polish Universities in Lodz. In 2012, he became Vice-Chairman of the Conference of Rectors of Polish Universities.
Prof. Nykiel's research interests focus on problems of tax law and budgetary law. He is the founder and Head of the Centre of Tax Documentation and Studies, which has the richest tax library in Central and Eastern Europe. It is the only research facility of its kind in Poland, collaborating with leading foreign centres.
Professor Nykiel is a member of a number of national and international scientific societies – he belongs, inter alia, to the European Association of Tax Law Professors and the International Fiscal Association. He was also a member of the Board of Trustees of the International Bureau of Fiscal Documentation (IBFD) in Amsterdam.
Professor Nykiel has held important public functions, including being a consultant to the International City/County Management Association, Washington D. C., a member of the Prime Minister's State Reforms Council, a judge at the State Tribunal, President of the State Examination Commission for Tax Advisers, a member of Parliament of the Republic of Poland.
PROFESSOR ANTONI RÓŻALSKI
Prof. Antoni Różalski was the only candidate for the position of a rector for the 2016-2020 term. At that time, the Ministry of Science and Higher Education began implementing a comprehensive reform of the higher education system. The new Law on Higher Education and Science has enforced significant changes to the existing organisational principles of universities and their funding.
During both tenures of Rector Nykiel, he served as the University of Lodz Vice-Rector for Research and, in 2014-2016, additionally as the Vice-Rector for Student Affairs and Course of Study.
Prof. Różalski's scientific interests include issues related to microbiology, immunochemistry and immunobiology of bacteria. Prof. Różalski was a President of the Scientific Board of the Centre for Medical Biology of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Lodz, and Vice-President of the Microbiology Committee of the Polish Academy of Sciences. He has been a member of the Molecular Cell Biology Committee of the Polish Academy of Sciences since 2016. He was involved in the efforts of Polish microbiologists to have microbiology recognised as an independent discipline in the biological sciences by the Central Commission for Degrees and Titles. He strove, with others, for the Faculty of Biology and Environmental Protection at the University of Lodz to be authorised to confer PhD and post-doctoral degrees in the discipline of Microbiology.
Until 2020, he has reviewed 49 doctoral dissertations, 17 habilitations, 13 professor applications and has also assessed one full professor application. Prof. Różalski’s scientific output includes authorship and co-authorship of 148 original experimental papers, 37 review articles, 105 statements at international scientific conferences and symposia, 137 statements at national conferences and 36 other papers.