Elie Wiesel, the Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Holocaust survivor and author of more than 50 books, has accepted an appointment as a Distinguished Presidential Fellow at Chapman University.
Chapman President James Doti revealed the appointment of the author of the internationally acclaimed Night during today's Opening Convocation in Orange attended by nearly 1,200 new Chapman students and their families.
According to a statement released by the private university, Wiesel will spend spring semesters at Chapman through 2015. He will retain his faculty position at Boston University as well.
During his Chapman fellowship, he will meet with undergraduates in Holocaust history courses and possibly other disciplines, including history, French, religious studies and literature.
Complete plans for his fellowship activities are still in progress, according to the university statement.
"In 2005 and again in April of this year, we were fortunate to welcome Professor Wiesel to our campus," Doti is quoted as saying in the release. "It is rare to have a Nobel Peace Prize laureate visit once, let alone twice--and we knew we were among a very few select institutions in the world.
"That this remarkable individual, one of the world's most famous and respected people, one who truly exemplifies the meaning of 'global citizen,' should choose to return to spend time with our students is truly a tremendous honor for Chapman," Doti continued. "Of all the many honors and prestigious titles Professor Wiesel has received, the one he treasures the most is that of 'teacher.'"
"On my two visits to Chapman University, I was profoundly impressed by the quality of the students and faculty, in particular Dr. Marilyn Harran, and by the way in which the university is teaching and remembering some of the most tragic events in human history, events that have had such a deep influence upon my life," Wiesel says in the Chapman statement. "For these reasons, I have made the decision to return to Chapman annually as Distinguished Presidential Fellow."
Harran, the Stern Chair in Holocaust Education, a professor of Religious Studies and History and director of Chapman's Rodgers Center for Holocaust Education, says in the release, "Professor Wiesel has been the face and voice of Holocaust memory and witness to the world, and an ambassador of humanity and hope for decades. He has consistently challenged us to learn from the Holocaust and to reject indifference, and--in his words--'to think higher and feel deeper.' We are unbelievably fortunate that he has chosen to return to Chapman and to share with us his knowledge and wisdom.
"I am stunned and deeply grateful that he will be with us in this new role as Distinguished Presidential Fellow," she continued. "I know our university community will be profoundly enriched and inspired by his presence."
According to the university, Wiesel first visited Chapman in April 2005, when he took part in dedication ceremonies for the university's Sala and Aron Samueli Holocaust Memorial Library. During that visit, which also marked the 60th anniversary of his liberation from the Buchenwald concentration camp, the university presented him with an honorary doctorate in humane letters, and unveiled a large bronze bust of Wiesel near the entrance of the Holocaust Memorial Library.
He visited Chapman again this past April to be guest of honor at the university's gala "Our Promise to Remember: An Evening of Humanity and Hope," which marked the 10th anniversary of the Rodgers Center and the Stern Chair.
During his Orange swing, Wiesel spoke to Chapman students and to middle and high school students who submitted winning entries in the annual Holocaust Art and Writing Contest sponsored by Chapman and The "1939" Club, a Holocaust survivor organization, according to the university.
Wiesel's official biography, courtesy of the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity, follows after the jump . . .
Elie Wiesel was born in 1928 in Sighet, Transylvania, which is now part of Romania. He was 15 years old when he and his family were deported by the Nazis to Auschwitz. His mother and younger sister perished, his two older sisters survived. Elie and his father were later transported to Buchenwald, where his father died shortly before the camp was liberated in April 1945.
After the war, Elie Wiesel studied in Paris and later became a journalist. During an interview with the distinguished French writer Francois Mauriac, he was persuaded to write about his experiences in the death camps. The result was his internationally acclaimed memoir, Night (La Nuit) which has since been translated into more than 30 languages.
In 1978, President Jimmy Carter appointed Elie Wiesel as Chairman of the President's Commission on the Holocaust. In 1980, he became the Founding Chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council. He is also the President of The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity, an organization he and his wife created to fight indifference, intolerance and injustice. Elie Wiesel has received more than 100 honorary degrees from institutions of higher learning.
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A devoted supporter of Israel, Elie Wiesel has also defended the cause of Soviet Jews, Nicaragua's Miskito Indians, Argentina's Desaparecidos, Cambodian refugees, the Kurds, victims of famine and genocide in Africa, of apartheid in South Africa, and victims of war in the former Yugoslavia. For more than fifteen years, Elie and his wife Marion have been especially devoted to the cause of Ethiopian-born Israeli youth through the Foundation's Beit Tzipora Centers for Study and Enrichment.
Teaching has always been central to Elie Wiesel's work. Since 1976, he has been the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Boston University, where he also holds the title of University Professor. He is a member of the faculty in the Department of Religion as well as the Department of Philosophy. Previously, he served as Distinguished Professor of Judaic Studies at the City University of New York (1972-76) and the first Henry Luce Visiting Scholar in Humanities and Social Thought at Yale University (1982-83).
Elie Wiesel is the author of more than 50 books of fiction and nonfiction, including Night, A Beggar in Jerusalem (Prix Médicis winner), The Testament (Prix Livre Inter winner), The Fifth Son (winner of the Grand Prize in Literature from the City of Paris), two volumes of his memoirs, All Rivers Run to the Sea and The Sea is Never Full, and most recently, The Sonderberg Case.
For his literary and human rights activities, he has received numerous awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal, the National Humanities Medal, the Medal of Liberty, and the rank of Grand-Croix in the French Legion of Honor. In 1986, Elie Wiesel won the Nobel Prize for Peace, and soon after, Marion and Elie Wiesel established The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity.