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Roland W. Schmitt

Roland Walter Schmitt is a physicist, business executive and was the sixteenth president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

He was born on July 24, 1923 in Seguin, Texas to Walter L. Schmitt and Myrtle F. (Caldwell) Schmitt. On June 2, 1951 he married Alice V. Calhoun (b. February 12, 1930) and they had two sons: Lorenz (b. 1952) and Brian (b. 1954). Alice died on July 17, 1956. He later married Claire F. Kunz (b. 1928) on September 19, 1957; they had two children: Alice (b. 1958) and Henry (b. 1961).[1]

He graduated from the University of Texas with a B.S. in physics and a B.A. in mathematics, both in 1947 and a master's degree in physics in 1948. He received a P.h.D. in physics from Rice University in 1951. He then joined General Electric as a research associate and remained with the company until his retirement in 1988. From 1978-1986, he directed the General Electric Research and Development Center in Schenectady, New York.[2] In 1982, he was appointed senior vice president.[3]

From 1988-1993, he was president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. During his tenure, he oversaw a $200 million fundraising campaign and saw the addition of new degree programs and research centers.[4] He served as a member of the National Academy of Engineering and received the Arthur M. Bueche Award from the NAE in 1995.[5] He is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, the 1989 recipient of the IEEE Engineering Leadership Recognition Award,[6] the 1988 recipient of the Maurice Holland Award and 1989 recipient of the IRI Medal, both from the Industrial Research Institute, and the 1992 recipient of the IEEE Founders Medal.[7] He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.


  1. ^ "Schmitt, Roland Walter", Who'sWho in Science and Engineering, 2003, page 1136.
  2. ^ The Business Council of New York State, Inc.
  3. ^ "Corporate Title Given G.E. Scientist", New York Times, June 3, 1982, page D2
  4. ^ Rensselaer Hall of Fame Inductee
  5. ^ Previous Recipients of the Arthur M. Bueche Award
  6. ^ "IEEE Ernst Weber Engineering Leadership Recognition Recipients" (PDF). IEEE. Retrieved November 20, 2010. 
  7. ^ IEEE Founders Medal Recipients
Academic offices
Preceded by
Stanley I. Landgraf
President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
1988 – 1993
Succeeded by
R. Byron Pipes
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