Following a 37-year commitment to excellence, the Lighting Research Center and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute acknowledge the exemplary career and well-deserved retirement of Professor Russell P. Leslie. He retires as Associate Director of the world’s largest multi-disciplinary center for lighting research, education, and technology transfer.
Joining Rensselaer in 1980 as a research associate, Leslie quickly rose through the ranks to professor, developing courses in sustainability and environmental systems for the School of Architecture. He worked in the Center for Architectural Research on energy-conscious design and daylighting and was recognized as a Distinguished Teaching Fellow, 1987-1989.
With core funding from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), Leslie was a co-founder of the LRC in 1988, establishing its labs on the Rensselaer campus and thence to a facility in nearby Watervliet, NY. As the Associate Director, Leslie was the architect who transformed two unused floors of a mid-1800s downtown Troy factory building into a revitalized, open-plan lighting laboratory and graduate classrooms. The renovated workspace was re-dedicated in 2000 and is the current home of the LRC.
Many LRC programs and projects would not exist if not for Leslie’s insight, expertise and guidance. For example, in 1990, Leslie started and served as project director of the National Lighting Product Information Program (NLPIP) which won the New York State Governor’s Award for Energy Excellence while transforming lighting energy efficiency practice. He was also initiator and project director for DELTA (Design and Evaluation of Lighting Technologies and Applications) and PEARL (Program for the Evaluation and Analysis of Residential Lighting)—programs that support energy efficiency efforts for the EPA, DoE, NYSERDA, California Energy Commission, and multiple electric utilities.
A registered architect, Leslie is responsible for over 100 buildings and has authored many books, papers and reports on lighting, daylighting, architecture, and energy, and has presented hundreds of lectures to U.S. and international audiences. Leslie served as Head of Graduate Programs in Lighting for 13 years—the country's first Master’s and PhD programs in lighting. He has curated multiple light art demonstrations and community installations. Leslie has served as director of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America and as the Feltman Chair in Lighting at Cooper Union. He is the recipient of several prestigious awards, both at home and abroad.
When pressed for a quote on what he admired most about his career, Leslie replied, “It’s the Partners, the sponsors, and the colleagues here at the LRC.”
Students, alumni, and co-workers alike will miss Professor Leslie’s soft-spoken, friendly demeanor. No doubt they will remember his beloved BMW motorcycles that logged over 150,000 miles on his daily commute from Shaftsbury, VT, to Troy, NY—one of his proudest achievements! The Lighting Research Center extends heartfelt congratulations on a distinguished career and best wishes for a long, successful retirement.