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Wallenberg honored with humanitarian fellowship

By Peter Shahin, Daily Staff Reporter
Published October 30, 2012

At her annual leadership breakfast Tuesday morning, University President Mary Sue Coleman announced a host of new initiatives, ranging from renovations of the Earl V. Moore building on North Campus to a new fellowship for undergraduate students in honor of University alum Raoul Wallenberg.

During the 45-minute speech before a gathering of University executives, senior faculty and select students in the Colloquium Room of the Ross School of Business, Coleman continued to refer back to the spirit of Wallenberg, a 1935 University graduate. During the Holocaust, the Swedish-born Wallenberg worked in his capacity as a diplomat to save 100,000 Jews from concentration camps. He was arrested by the Soviets and never released.

Coleman said the world is still seeking answers about Wallenberg's death, but noted that he directly helped save Andrew Nagy, a professor emeritus of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences, who was a teenager during the war.

In honor of Wallenberg's courage, Coleman announced that the University would establish an undergraduate fellowship. Though criteria for the award has yet to be finalized, each year, one graduating senior who has demonstrated a commitment to public service is eligible to receive a $25,000 stipend to pursue humanitarian interests anywhere in the world. The award will begin with this year’s graduating class.

The University previously honored Wallenberg in 1990 through the establishment of his namesake medal and lecture. The medal is awarded yearly to individuals from around the world for a variety of political, charitable, humanitarian and cultural achievements. Previous recipients have included Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, both winners of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Moore building renovations

The largest ticket item announced at the breakfast is a proposed $23-million renovation of the Earl V. Moore building on North Campus. Built in 1964, the building has become rundown and is no longer able to accommodate the increased number of students, Coleman said.

“I know the faculty from Music, Theatre and Dance will agree when I say this project is overdue,” Coleman said.

If approved by the University’s Board of Regents at its Nov. 15 meeting, the University will contribute $14 million toward the project, complemented by an $8-million donation from alumni Bill and Dee Brehm. The University will also seek another $1 million from smaller donors.

Additions to the building will include a large rehearsal hall for use by the University Symphony Orchestra and the University Symphony Band, renovations of existing halls and classrooms, a new entryway and the addition of practice spaces, among other improvements, according to a University press release.

“The School of Music, Theatre and Dance is a point of pride for Michigan, with talent second to no one,” Coleman said.

According to Jerry May, the University’s vice president for development, the renovation was largely spurred by the Brehm family’s $8-million donation. The Brehms have previously contributed more than $60 million to a variety of projects, including an expansion of the Kellogg Eye Center. They’ve also funded diabetes research, the establishment of two named professorships and a scholarship program for graduates of Fordson High School in Dearborn, Mich. who attend the University.

“(Bill Brehm) has a great love of music. He records, he plays, he produces,” May said. “One day he called and said, ‘I want to do something.