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Tolstoy College


Historical Note

In 1968 President Martin Meyerson of the University of Buffalo announced that he would receive suggestions from the faculty for the experimental colleges that were to be set up as part of the new Amherst campus facility. The formation of College F, otherwise known as Tolstoy College, was first proposed by Charles Planck of the Political Science Department. Tolstoy College's theme was one of anarchism and emphasized the construction of small, decentralized communities, in response to Tolstoy's questions of "How to live?" and "What to live for?"

Planck offered Charles Haynie a position in the new college and organized course offerings from faculty in the Departments of Philosophy and Political Science.

From its inception in the fall of 1969, Tolstoy College fostered student activism in both university and social causes. Indeed, in May of 1977, most of Tolstoy College's staff formed a Buffalo affinity group and joined the occupation of the Seabrook, New Hampshire nuclear power plant. Along with roughly 3,000 other protestors, many of the college faculty and staff spent two weeks in jail. Tolstoy College courses instructed students on matters of living off the land, building environmentally sensitive dwellings, avoiding dependence on urban technology and a variety of courses focused on specific gender, socioeconomic class and ethnic experiences as well as gay rights and ageism.

In 1975, the College received a two-year contract with a review provision, attributed to the shift of Tolstoy College's theme from anarchism to one of the study of oppressed entities in American society. As other radically-oriented colleges failed or were terminated by the University, Tolstoy College picked up their subjects and themes. The college was conditionally rechartered through July 29, 1977 after review.

In 1980, a review subcommittee recommended a five-year charter, which was apparently granted in 1981. After the resignation and departure of the Dean of the Colleges and both assistant deans circa 1983, a proposal was drawn up suggesting the incorporation of Tolstoy into the Department of American Studies. The proposal was rejected by the Dean of Arts & Letters, James Bunn, on February 6, 1984 citing a Faculty-wide concern about appointing Haynie to a tenure-track position within Arts and Letters as a basis for the program’s rejection.

Tolstoy College was eliminated at the end of the 1984-1985 academic year during a reorganization of the college system wherein all remaining colleges were absorbed into existing academic and administrative units. Tolstoy itself was subsumed into the Faculty of Social Sciences and Charles Haynie was accepted into the Faculty's Interdisciplinary Undergraduate Program at that time.

Charles Planck was the first master of Tolstoy College, serving from 1968 to 1973. Upon his departure, Robert Newman served as master. In 1980 Charles Haynie took over as director of the College. He served in that capacity until the College was disbanded.
Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Charles Haynie papers

 Collection — Box: 1-4
Identifier: 34/9/1071
Overview Collection includes Haynie's correspondence, teaching files, publications, and information on political, social, and environmental activism.