Holocaust Survivor Elie Wiesel to Speak Feb. 8 at Honors College Convocation

OXFORD, Miss. – Nobel laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel shares his message of hope through dark and seemingly hopeless circumstances Feb. 8 at the University of Mississippi during the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College Spring Convocation.

WeiselThe event, which is free and open to the public, begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. A reception follows in the Ford Center.

Tickets are required and will be available Monday (Feb. 1). Tickets, which are limited to two per person, are available by calling 662-915-7411, by visiting the UM Box Office in the Student Union from noon to 4 p.m. weekdays or the Ford Center Box Office from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays, or by going to http://www.olemiss.edu/depts/tickets/order.htm.

Wiesel’s personal experience of the Holocaust has led him to work on behalf of oppressed people around the world throughout his life. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986.

The professor and political activist has authored more than 50 books of fiction and nonfiction.  His memoir “Night” (Hill and Wang, 1958, 2006) has been translated into more than 30 languages. Other writings by Wiesel offer poetic and powerful contributions to theology, literature and his articulation of Jewish spirituality.

“We want our honors students to hear one of the most prominent and compassionate voices of hope in the world,” said Douglass Sullivan-Gonzalez, dean of the Honors College. “Our SMBHC students need to listen to Elie Wiesel’s message and to understand the implications of hope that have been tested.”

Wiesel was born in Sighet, Transylvania, which is part of Romania. When he was 15, he and his family were deported to Auschwitz by the Nazis. His mother and younger sister perished, and his two older sisters survived. He and his father were later transported to Buchenwald, where Wiesel’s father died shortly before the camp was liberated in April 1945.

For his literary and human rights activities, Wiesel has received numerous awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal and the Medal of Liberty Award. He and his wife, Marion, established the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity to fight indifference, intolerance and injustice.

“There must come a moment – a moment of bringing people together,” Wiesel has said. “When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Whenever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion or personal views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.”

During his visit, Wiesel will also meet with the SMBHC and Croft Institute students enrolled in the honors Holocaust seminar taught by Kees Gispen, executive director of the Croft Institute for International Studies and professor of history.

“I’ve read a good bit of Wiesel’s work and have heard him lecture before, but I’ve never had the opportunity to meet him in person,” Gispen said. “I look forward with great anticipation to meeting Wiesel and to teaching my Holocaust course under these very special circumstances. It is an enormous privilege and great honor for the university community to host someone like him.”

An American citizen since 1963, Wiesel lives with his wife in Connecticut. Since 1976, he has been the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Boston University. His latest book, “A Mad Desire to Dance,” is to be released in February.

For more information about Wiesel, visit http://www.eliewieselfoundation.org. For more information on the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, go to http://www.honors.olemiss.edu/.