I met professor Michał Życzkowski for the first time in October 1971

After disastrous holidays, I came to Cracow very late - lectures had already gathered momentum. One of the colleagues told me that my name appears on some list at the Dean’s Office and I should report there ASAP. I had never been "put up” at the Dean’s Office before. O got scared. All the pecadillos committed in the previous semester flashed through my mind: I wrote exams for colleagues, I cheated in laboratory works, I lived in the hall unregistered, etc. Someone grassed on me, I thought. I swallowed my fear and went to check what was going on. The list was no longer there.

 So, I go to the Lady at the Dean’s Office, introduce myself and ask, if she knows something. After a short investigation, the Lady tells me that professor Michał Życzkowski – a person I knew nothing about at that time – wants to talk to me. Who is professor Życzkowski, I am thinking. Most probably a disciplinary committee or something like that. I go to the indicated address of the M1 Institute (the old barracks at the Warszawska Street). In a dark corridor, I meet a middle-aged man. I ask as politely as I can, where I can meet professor Życzkowski. The man looked at me and asks “Mr. Rysz ?”.

 I went week at the knees. They know me here by name! In the next sentence, professor Życzkowski – for it was him – explains to me that he wanted to talk about enrolment for Applied Mechanics and asks me, if I want to study this specialization. It was a load off my mind. I agree immediately. That’s how the twenty years of our cooperation started. Under the direction of professor Życzkowski, I wrote my master’s thesis and later my doctoral dissertation. He was the best “boss” one could imagine. Very patient and tolerant of my stupidity. The expression "I feel like giving you a dressing-down, mister" was the expression of his highest discontentment. Of course, he never gave me one (which is a pity). On the contrary, he helped me solve all problems.

In his honesty, kind-heartedness and kindliness towards others, professor Michał Życzkowski remains for me an unattainable example not only of a great scientist, but also of a great man and humanist. The impact of professor Michał Życzkowski on my life can only be compared to the impact of my parents.

For all of us, who worked under the direction of professor Michał Życzkowski at the Institute of Mechanics and Machine Construction, the memory of him is sacred and unfading.


Marek Rysz 

11th December 2009

Mayagüez, PR - USA


P.S.  Both of us celebrated our birthdays on 12th April. The professor used to say that we differ only by a “vingt-et-un”. I was always a bit embarrassed when wishing him on his birthday, for it could look as if I meant my own.