Nickoloz (Nicko) Ketskhoveli

In August 8, 1945, Nickoloz  Ketskhoveli was appointed the eleventh Rector of Tbilisi State University and served in this office until July 1953.  
Nicko Ketskhoveli was born in the village Tkviavi, formerly Gori district on December 26, 1897.  He came from a family of teachers and professional gardeners.    Ketskhoveli studied Natural Sciences at the faculty of Physics and Mathematics (1918-1926) and began his teaching career at Tbilisi State in 1923 working as a faculty assistant in botany.  In 1932 he became the head of the department.  
While still a student, Nickoloz Ketskhoveli participated in Georgia’s independence movement 1919 in Samtskhe-Javakheti.   He continued fighting until he was critically wounded in Kodjori and Tabakhmela in February, 1921.  His left arm was left permanently damaged by this wound.  
Having led number of scientific expeditions in different regions of Georgia, Nicko Ketskhoveli amassed a valuable collection of plant specimens showing the relation of forests and meadows and their role in the formation of mountain meadows. In 1935, the results of the plant specimen’s analyses were published  in the complete monograph in Main Types of Flora of Georgia which included plant distribution maps of Georgia.  In 1937,  Ketskhoveli defended doctoral dissertation and was awarded the degree of  Professor the following year.  
When  Ketskhoveli became rector of TSU in 1945, several notable innovations occurred in the university’s development.   Under his leadership, various scientific and literature groups were established at the university in 1947 including the young writers’ almanac Pirveli Skhivi, which provided a forum where promising Georgian poets and novelists could publish their works.    The university’s widely circulated weekly newspaper ‘Akhalgazrda Stalineli’ was founded and began publishing in 1947  with its charter for publication renewed in 1952.    Ketskhoveli  initiated the establishment of the faculty of Physical Education and Sports along with the Sports club, managed by Ketskhoveli himself in 1947.  The university sports club sponsored Spartakiadas, which promoted the development of a national sports program.  The Alpiniadas, an annual climbing event, became a fixed tradition that the university sports club promoted.    Nickoloz  Ketskhoveli’s  legendary status in the annals of Tbilisi State University is founded on his reputation as a caring teacher and  for his tireless dedication to  younger generations through educational and sports programs that contributed their intellectual and physical growth at the university.  
Ketskhoveli was a botanist of a wide interests his scientific interests comprised geobotany, botanical geography, the structure of  plants, cultural flora, and history of botanical studies. His scientific research was always closely connected with the interests of our country’s public agriculture. In this regard, Ketskhoveli’s work Agrobotanical Map of Georgia has  contributed greatly to the effective utilization of rural-agricultural lands in the republic’s territory. Number of achievements in botanical science of Georgia has been connected with the name of N. Ketskhoveli including the defining and translating for botanical and rural-agricultural terms into Georgian for research purposes and articles on botany for Georgian SSR Encyclopedia as well as serving as an editorial board member.  In addition, he actively participated in the establishment of the explanatory dictionary of Georgian language, which helped to preserve a number of words that had been passed down through oral tradition so that they now could be included  in Georgian literature.     
Ketskhoveli popularized the natural sciences and enriched Georgian literature with his scientific books.  Nicko Ketskhoveli wrote several botany and biology textbooks for public school and university students. In 1941 Ketskhoveli was elected as a Presidium member of the Academy of Sciences of Georgia.   He ran the rural-agricultural unit of the Academy (1942-1943) and served as a Vice-President of the Academy (1943-1945). In 1957, Nicko was appointed academician-secretary of the biology unit of Academy of Sciences, and served as a Director of the Institute of Botany from 1963 until his death in 1982.
In 1980, he was elected as an Honorable Citizen of Tbilisi.  Nicko Ketskhoveli died on December 26, 1982 and was buried in Didube Pantheon of Writers and Public Figures.