Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Holocaust survivor, and author of more than 50 books, including the internationally acclaimed Night, has accepted an appointment as a Distinguished Presidential Fellow at Chapman University. The announcement was made by Chapman President Jim Doti during the university’s 2010 Opening Convocation, attended by nearly 1,200 new Chapman students and their families.
Under the terms of the appointment, Professor Wiesel will spend time at Chapman University in spring 2011 and will return each spring for the following four years, though 2015. During his fellowship, he will meet with undergraduates in Chapman’s Holocaust history courses and possibly other disciplines, including history, French, religious studies, and literature. Professor Wiesel will retain his faculty position at Boston University.
Professor Wiesel said, “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. For these reasons, I have made the decision to return to Chapman annually as Distinguished Presidential Fellow.”
Dr. Harran, Stern Chair in Holocaust Education, Professor of Religious Studies and History and director of Chapman’s Rodgers Center for Holocaust Education, added, “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. I know our university community will be profoundly enriched and inspired by his presence.”
Elie Wiesel first visited Chapman University 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 Professor Wiesel’s liberation from the Buchenwald concentration camp – the university presented him with an honorary doctorate in humane letters, and unveiled a large bronze bust of Professor Wiesel near the entrance of the Holocaust Memorial Library.
His second visit to Chapman took place in April 2010, when he was guest of honor at the university’s gala “Our Promise to Remember: An Evening of Humanity and Hope,” marking the 10th anniversary of the Rodgers Center and the Stern Chair. During that visit, he also 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.
The university includes among its faculty Nobel Prize laureate in economics Vernon Smith, Ph.D. and Wolf Prize recipient in physics, Yakir Aharonov, Ph.D.