Petre Melikishvili

Petre Melikishvili was elected as the first Rector of the first Georgian University, later known as Tbilisi State University, on January 13, 1918 at the first meeting of University Board of Professors.  His colleague Ivane Javakhishvili nominated him for this position.   At that time, Melikishvili was the most famous scientist of all his colleagues. For almost two years, he managed the newly established school absolutely for free and willingly used all his knowledge, experience and authority for the benefit of the first Georgian University.

In 1868, Petre Melikishvili graduated from the First Gymnasium in Tbilisi and enrolled in natural science department of Odessa University physics and mathematics faculty.  In 1873, he went abroad to work for two years in Germany at the Tubingen and Karlsruhe chemistry laboratories. After returning from Germany,  Petre Melikishvili began working at the Odessa University chemistry laboratory on research that led to the successful defense of his master’s thesis “On the Products of Acrylic Acids’ in 1881.   Later, in Paris he attended lectures delivered by the well-known French chemist M. Bertello.  In Munich he became acquainted with new scientific achievements and technologies in the laboratory of a celebrated German chemist A. Bayer.

In 1884, Petre Melikishvili was nominated and elected as associated professor of Agro chemistry at Odessa University by Professors Verigo, Petriashvili and Klimenko.     In 1885, after defending his thesis, Petre was awarded a title - Doctor of Chemistry and in 1889, he became the chairman of the Agro chemistry department. In 1899, Petre Melikishvili was awarded a prize and Lomonosov big gold medal for his scientific research. He had interests in both organic and inorganic chemistry and discovered a class of organic compounds called glycidacids.   D. Mendeleev appreciated Milikishvili’s work because his research reinforced the study of ‘periodic table’. Through chemical analysis, he examined the impact of soil composition and climatic conditions on wheat, wine, cheese and other agricultural products that are particularly important in Georgia.

During his term as Rector at Tbilisi State University, Petre Melikishvili continued to deliver lectures on chemistry and organize laboratories while serving as the chair of Chemistry and Organic Chemistry departments.   In addition,  Melikishvili helped to design the courses and the Bachelor’s degree program of study in chemistry as well as the post-graduate studies for research.  After he left the position of Rector, Melikishvili founded the Agricultural faculty to further research the impact of soil composition and climatic conditions on agricultural productivity.   

Petre Melikishvili was buried in the university garden. A year after his death, during the tenth anniversary celebrations commemorating the establishment of the university, a foundation stone was laid for the monument on Melikishvili’s grave.  Iakob Nikoladze,  the famous Georgian sculptor, completed the monument.   At the commemorative ceremony, Korneli Kekelidze said: “You are not able to attend the tenth anniversary celebration of our university, but your grave will feel the profound respect and love which students have towards you.”