May 04, 2009

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By Julia Ferrante

LEWISBURG, Pa. – Elie Wiesel, a Nobel Laureate honored for his leadership in fighting injustice and his writings as a Holocaust survivor, will deliver the commencement address during the 159th graduation ceremony at Bucknell University, Sunday, May 17.

Wiesel will encourage students to use what they have learned "to help the world around them," he recently told The Philadelphia Inquirer.

"It's the last address that students hear, so they hear it differently," Wiesel said. "They deserve a real creation, something new, not just to say the same speech all over again. This year, especially, because there is so much turbulence … I think we need a compass. And the only compass I know of is a moral compass."

For the first time, Bucknell's commencement will be broadcast live online. Viewers from around the world may watch the ceremony and Wiesel's address by visiting a special link at the University's website.

The ceremony begins at 10 a.m. and is expected to go until 1 p.m., but viewers may log in as early as 9:30 a.m. to ensure a connection.

Viewers must have the Windows Media Player installed on their computers to view the broadcast. Links to the current player for PCs and Macs will be included on the commencement viewing website.

Prominent author
Bucknell President Brian C. Mitchell described Wiesel as "one of the foremost advocates for humaneness, a leader and a writer who has provided vivid and potent testimony to the horrors of prejudice and the need for learning and remembering the lessons of history."

"Wiesel’s experiences overcoming intolerance and injustice will offer inspiration to students graduating at a time when the country is facing social and economic challenges," said Class of 2009 President Alexandra Campbell-Ferrari. "He is a testament to the strength of humanity and a professed dream of many that one day all individuals will be equal and free."

Wiesel is the author of more than 50 books, including the world-renowned Night, a memoir of his experience in Nazi concentration camps. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986 and shortly after that formed the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity. 

The Norwegian Nobel Committee said at the time Wiesel "has emerged as one of the most important spiritual leaders and guides in an age when violence, repression and racism continue to characterize the world," according to its website.

"The Norwegian Nobel Committee believes that Elie Wiesel, with his message and through his practical work in the cause of peace, is a convincing spokesman for the view of mankind and for the unlimited humanitarianism which are at all times necessary for a lasting and just peace," the committee said.

Wiesel was born in 1928 in Sighet, Transylvania, now part of Romania. He was 15 when he and his family were deported by Nazis to the infamous concentration camp Auschwitz, where his mother and one of his sisters died. Wiesel survived three other concentration camps, including Buchenwald, where his father died shortly before the camp was liberated in 1945.

He studied in France and became a journalist after the war and first wrote about the Holocaust in 1954. Wiesel became a U.S. citizen in 1963 and received numerous honors, including the Nobel Peace Prize and the chairmanship of the President's Commission on the Holocaust from 1978 to 1986.

Boston University
Wiesel has been the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Boston University since 1976. Previously, he was Distinguished Professor of Judaic Studies at the City University of New York and the first Henry Luce Visiting Scholar in Humanities and Social Thought at Yale University from 1982 to 1983.

Related Links:
Elie Wiesel to deliver Commencement address
Commencement to be broadcast live online
Commencement information

Contact: Division of Communications


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