ANN ARBOR—The University of Michigan is offering a new annual fellowship that commemorates one of its most illustrious graduates, Raoul Wallenberg, who rescued tens of thousands of Jews during World War II, U-M's president announced Tuesday.
The Wallenberg Fellowship, among the largest for an undergraduate, gives a graduating senior $25,000 to carry out independent explorations, projects or activities anywhere in the world. The grant will be awarded to a senior who demonstrates exceptional promise, character, accomplishment and capacity for public service.
The student will also have to propose a creative and thoughtful project that will develop a capacity for reflective and humane engagement with the world.
"Raoul Wallenberg was, and is, a hero of the highest order. He showed us, more than any Michigan graduate, that one person can make a difference," U-M President Mary Sue Coleman said. "Surely he did not graduate intending to become an international symbol of moral courage. But his remarkable deeds provide inspiration for today's Michigan students, and this new award will serve to encourage careers dedicated to service and human rights."
Wallenberg was a Swedish national who graduated in 1935 from the College of Architecture. He became a Swedish diplomat and was sent on a rescue mission in 1944 to Budapest, Hungary, at the request of Jewish organizations and the American War Refugee Board.
Over the course of six months, Wallenberg issued thousands of protective passports and placed many thousands of Jews in safe houses throughout the besieged city. He confronted Hungarian and German forces to secure the release of Jews whom he claimed were under Swedish protection, saving over 80,000 lives.
Applicants for the fellowship must be seniors in good standing at the time of their application and must graduate by the time the fellowship begins on Aug. 1. Full applications are due Feb. 15, 2013, and the fellow will be notified in mid-March.