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Wiesel accepts teaching position at Chapman University

by Tom Tugend

August 30, 2010 | 4:34 pm

Elie Wiesel will travel to Orange County next spring, and in each of the following four years, to teach at Chapman University, a private institution founded by a Christian denomination.

Appointment of the Nobel Laureate, author and Holocaust survivor as Distinguished Presidential Fellow was announced by Chapman President Jim Doti.

According to a Chapman news release, Wiesel noted that “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 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.”

Harran, a professor of religion, was instrumental in starting the university’s Holocaust studies program 10 years ago and directs the Rodgers Center for Holocaust Education.

Chapman University is located in Orange, some 45 miles south of Los Angeles, and was founded in 1861 by members of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). During the 1920s, while located in Los Angeles, it was known as the California Christian College.

Wiesel, who lives in New York is a professor of humanities at Boston University, and Chapman officials have not yet finalized the extent of his duties or length of stay.

However, he is expected to interact extensively with students in Chapman’s three Holocaust courses, and probably with other undergraduate students in the history, French, religious studies and literature programs, Chapman spokeswoman Mary Platt said.

Wiesel, the author of “Night” and 50 other books, including the just-released “The Sonderberg Case” (Knopf), first visited Chapman five years ago to participate in the dedication of the university’s Sala and Aron Samueli Holocaust Memorial Library. On the occasion, the university unveiled a large bronze bust of Wiesel at the library entrance.

He returned last April as guest of honor at the university’s gala “Our Promise to Remember: An Evening of Humanity and Hope.”

The “1939” Club, a Los Angeles-based Holocaust survivor group, has been a longtime supporter of he Chapman Holocaust program.

In 2000, the club and Harran arranged for full-time scholarship at Chapman for Christoph Meili, the Swiss bank guard who prevented his bank from destroying documents of accounts held by Holocaust victims.

Chapman has a student body of some 6,000, including more than 4,000 undergraduates in a liberal arts curriculum, and others in professional school of law, business, and media arts.

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