HomeIn MemoriamULRIC S. HAYNES, JR. (1931-2020)

ULRIC S. HAYNES, JR. (1931-2020)

Ulric “Rick” S. Haynes, Jr., a former Trustee of Deep Springs and Withrow lecturer, died of COVID-19 in August at the age of 89. He had retired to Florida after a long career as a diplomat, public servant, businessman, educator, and advisor and friend to people of all ages. He served on the National Security Council staff during the Johnson administration; taught in a Freedom School in Mississippi during the Civil Rights movement; represented the Cummins Engine Company in Tehran under the Shah; and was the United States Ambassador to Algeria from 1977 to 1981. In the last capacity he was on the team that negotiated the freedom of American hostages in Tehran. (Algeria mediated the negotiations.)

Rick spent the back half of his career in education, as president of SUNY-Old  Westbury and later dean at Hofstra. His transition to academia was a stroke of luck for many young people with whom he interacted without pretense or condescension. If you wanted to know about the world but knew nothing of it, meeting Rick could yield reading suggestions, introductions, jokes, anecdotes, frank assessments of politicians foreign and domestic, and the friendship of a man whose generosity was overwhelming and instinctive. A conversation with Rick could end with his arranging your meeting with the leader of the resistance to French rule in the Casbah of Algiers, or telling you how the Black Panther fundraiser in Tom Wolfe’s essay “Radical Chic” (1970) really went down. (Rick was there, and Wolfe quoted him pungently.)

Rick came to Deep Springs in April 1998 as a guest speaker, at the introduction of his friends William vanden Heuvel DS4TK, Robert F. Gatje, DS4TK, and Ed Wisely, DS4TK. He lectured in Algeria and foreign relations to a student body (SB) that was — like many SBs before it — not previously engaged in discussion of international affairs, at least not of the modern era. (The Peloponnesian War, maybe, bot not the policies of the Carter administration.) He connected students with opportunities abroad and introduced them to acquaintances who could nurture their interests. The Trustees invited him, with student encouragement, to join the board, and he accepted. He served until 2004, devoting himself to the internationalization and diversification of the SB.

His contributions to Deep Springs came 50 years late. That was not his fault. Rick had wanted to apply as a student in 1948, but he was black, and Deep Springs did not admit black students. His contributions are noted with affection, and with sadness and embarrassment that they could not have come earlier.    —Graeme Wood, DS97

Rick Haynes pronounced my name — ‘Christian Von Nicholson?’ — with a voice for radio and a diplomat’s formality. When I first heard him over the receiver in a phone booth at the San Francisco Zen Center, I thought I was in trouble. It was actually the opposite of trouble. Rick was a Dickensian benefactor ex machina, and he had taken an interest in me.

I had dropped out of Deep Springs after my first year and spent the next two years clinically depressed. When the call came through in September 1998, I was wearing dark sweats and flip flops, a kind of pre-monk studying meditation and considering a career as a bodhisattva. Rick was a Deep Springs trustee, and he had a way of rescuing strays.

For several years he played a crucial part in my life, leading me from the Zen Center through Guatemala to the American University of Paris, where he had ties as a Hofstra dean. He did the same, using different paths, for many others.

There were few places where Rick did not know someone.

His network extended to Bangladesh, where I had gone to study microfinance at Grameen Bank and was traveling from village to village to see its system of social pressure and support in action. Rick wanted to open my eyes to the possibilities of the place, and suggested I meet an old friend. This friend led a group that sang ragas late into the night, sitting on the floor of a small room with white-washed walls. They invited singers from the Indian state of West Bengal to come back and teach Bangladeshis their techniques, since many musicians in east Bengal had been killed in the war of independence.

Rick had a high tolerance for that mixture of ambition, curiosity and naïveté that marks a certain type of Deep Springer in their 20s. He listened well, and made you feel like you were in on whatever joke he was weaving.

His stories made subtle points — about how the world works, or could be made to work, when things fall apart and the skills of diplomats are tested. They were parables of particular interest to Deep Springers, who train in acrimony during SB meetings, and to whom Rick could offer lessons in resolution.

When Rick was ambassador in Algiers, he and his wife turned the canteen of the US Embassy into the place to gather, even as his deft, welcoming manner made him a magnet for human intelligence. During that time, the US had no official ties to the PLO. But Rick maintained contact by attending diplomatic soirees. He and an accomplice would face one another in conversation, while drifting toward a pair of Palestinian officials doing the same dance, until finally he and his counterpart could speak directly back to back, while seeming to speak with someone else entirely. His goal was to break an impasse with a group that mattered to US interests, and he did so with suave flexibility toward the rules.

With his death, the country has lost a public servant, Deep Springs a friend, and younger generations a mentor. He will be sorely missed. —Chris Nicholson DS95