Event Preview: Student Forum with Dr. Anthony Fauci ’62

Hui Li ’21

Co-Chief Graphic Designer

On September 22, Anthony Fauci, MD earned a spot in Time Magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people of 2020. Dr. Fauci has served as Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) since 1984 and received the prestigious Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2008. He made headlines for his presence and advice at the president’s COVID-19 briefings this year as a member of the White House’s Coronavirus Task Force.

Dr. Fauci is a prominent alumnus of the College of the Holy Cross. He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Classics and a concentration on the pre-medical track in 1962. Over the summer and into the fall semester, the McFarland Center of Religion, Ethics, and Culture has been working to organize an event for current Holy Cross students to engage with Dr. Fauci at an online forum.

The forum, initially scheduled for Tuesday, September 1, the first day of the Fall 2020 semester, was moved to October because Dr. Fauci was recovering from his recent vocal cord surgery and had rescheduled his public speaking events. The opportunity for students to interact with Dr. Fauci will happen virtually on Tuesday, October 6.

Graphic by Kate Nedorostek ‘23. Photo and Info Courtesy of the McFarland Center.

In advance of the forum, The Spire reached out to Thomas Landy, the Director of the McFarland Center, for comment regarding the process of planning this unique opportunity for the community. Landy, a longtime admirer of Dr. Fauci’s work, stated that the famous alumnus was well-known in medical circles since the 1970s and that one of his earliest discoveries is still being used as the primary treatment for a dangerous disease that killed about half of the people it afflicted. This achievement also has connections to the Holy Cross community; according to Landy, “one recently retired faculty member was saved by that treatment!”

Landy shared that 2020 was not the first time that Dr. Fauci had risen to such significance in the national scene. He wrote in a statement to The Spire, “[Dr. Fauci’s] work leading the government’s scientific response to the AIDS [crisis] in the 80s and 90s made him famous nationally. Subsequent work on other infectious diseases like SARS and MERS occasionally brought him to media prominence.  His talent is long-known and respected, but even at that, it would have been hard to imagine the degree to which he has become a cultural icon.”

This year is also not the first time that the McFarland Center contacted Dr. Fauci. In Fall 2019, in Landy’s words “long before anyone heard of COVID-19,” the office invited the prominent alumnus to speak at Holy Cross. However, the doctor’s international travel schedule made visiting his undergraduate alma mater difficult.

Regarding the scheduling for the upcoming forum with Dr. Fauci, Landy remarked that even with the rescheduling that became necessary in early September, “Zoom actually made it possible, even at a busier time in his life.” Since the McFarland Center had previously reached out to Dr. Fauci last fall, it was easy to contact him again for this event. “I’ve been so impressed by his desire to be of help to the College, even though he’s one of the most in-demand people on earth, leading us through one of the most important crises we’ve faced this century,” wrote Landy.

The McFarland Center has been working with a group of twenty students to organize a Q&A with Dr. Fauci after his remarks for the forum. Participants will be able to submit questions upon registration for the event, and these will be asked to Fauci directly. “I’m excited that students will have a chance to ask him questions directly. [W]e’ve had more than 50 questions submitted online,” shared Landy.

When asked about what he hopes the community will gain from the forum, Landy states, “I’m eager to discuss the ways that students can help ameliorate this crisis, and hope that he’ll inspire others to similar lives of service. Maybe the ‘next’ Dr. Fauci is at Holy Cross today.”

The Student Forum with Dr. Anthony Fauci ’62 will happen online on Tuesday, October 6, from 2:00 to 2:45 EDT. Web registration is required. All members of the community were sent the registration link in emails from the McFarland Center. The webinar will be recorded and be uploaded at a later date.

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