In July 1975, famed Soviet dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn visited Norwich University shortly after his exile from the USSR. The Nobel prize-winning author of The Gulag Archipelago and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich spent 11 years in prison for criticizing his country’s policies before leaving the Soviet Union and eventually settling in Cavendish, Vt. He visited Norwich at the request of his friend Nicholas V. Pervushin, director of Norwich’s Russian School. Professor George Turner took many photographs of Solzhenitsyn during his stay on campus, the most famous of which depicts the reclusive author playing a game of tennis, in sandals no less.
The Russian School was originally at Windham College in Putney, Vt., and moved to Norwich University in 1968. The program offered a six-week intensive undergraduate program in Russian language and culture, as well as graduate courses in literature, culture and theory. In addition to five hours of classroom instruction each day, the school included a full theater production, a festival production, a film series, a study cafe, and a lecture series. During the Cold War era, enrollment swelled to more than 300 students. The Russian School at Norwich University was once the second-oldest and third-largest language school in the nation. After 32 years at Norwich University, the Russian School closed in the fall of 2000.