College of the Holy Cross President Vincent D. Rougeau speaks at the Integrated Science Complex during a ceremony dedicated to Dr. Anthony S. Fauci '62 Hon '87 on June 11, 2022 in Worcester, Massachusetts. (Photo by Michael Ivins/Holy Cross)
College of the Holy Cross President Vincent D. Rougeau:
Thank you, Helen. We have an abundance of brilliant servant leaders with us today, and we are grateful for your contributions to medicine, society and your alma mater.
In a 2016 speech, Pope Francis said that “vocations aren’t the result of planning, but an encounter with God that changes your life.”
And though Dr. Anthony Fauci certainly prepared for his extraordinary career, his encounters with God have no doubt changed his life … and the lives of so many others.
In preparing today’s remarks, I asked myself: What is left to say about Dr. Fauci that hasn’t already been said? Here is a man so accomplished that we awarded him an honorary degree in 1987, 35 years ago, for his pioneering contributions to the global AIDS crisis.
Lest anyone think we jumped the gun, President George W. Bush awarded Dr. Fauci the Presidential Medal of Freedom — the nation’s highest civilian honor for especially meritorious contributions to the national interest of the United States — in 2008.
And if I may go off script for a moment, I’d like to recognize another Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient with us today: Bob Cousy, Class of 1950. I understand Bob and Tony have great admiration for one another, but then again don’t we all? Bob, it’s wonderful to see you.
Dr. Fauci’s directorship of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases dates to 1984 — a validation of his political dexterity and intellectual fortitude. He is most proud to have been a principal architect of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), a program that has saved 21 million lives throughout the developing world, particularly within marginalized communities.
Dr. Fauci has advised seven U.S. presidents, oversees $6.3 billion in annual funding, and has been awarded 58 honorary degrees from academic institutions here and abroad.
And yet, before COVID-19, the bobbleheads and SNL skits, and the global superstardom — Tony Fauci was a student at Holy Cross. Walking these familiar brick pathways, carrying trays in Kimball, studying in Dinand, and playing pickup basketball with his friends. His life’s calling was heavily influenced by his childhood in Brooklyn, where his family owned a pharmacy. He embraced his Jesuit education, at rigorous Regis High School and later at Holy Cross, and its mission to serve others. In many ways, his faith and his family loaned him to us, and we are proud to now loan him to the world.
But we also like to think that Dr. Fauci’s encounters with God at Holy Cross did, indeed, change his life. Here, he earned the degree in classics and premed that would launch his medical career. A degree that Dr. Fauci said, “was absolutely a natural marriage of the humanities and science and medicine, where (he could) get a feel for the nature of evolving civilizations and how they related to each other; and what mankind is … and is not.”
Dr. Fauci has shown us that mankind can be courageous, kind and undeterred. We can trust science and eschew the “normalization of untruths.” We can believe in public service and social responsibility. In the darkest hours and brightest spotlights, we can be joyful, purposeful and hopeful.
In that same speech I mentioned earlier, Pope Francis said that Christ wants to “put people on the move, moving them from a lethal inactivity, breaking the illusion that it’s possible to live happily … staying comfortably seated among one’s own securities.” The desire to seek,” says Francis, is a “treasure often found in the “most young.”
So, Dr. Fauci, this is our abiding gift to you. Within the Anthony S. Fauci Integrated Science Complex, the “most young” scholars of Holy Cross will rise. They will continue to engage in learning across multiple academic disciplines to encourage the kind of broad and collaborative thinking one needs to thrive in an interconnected and just world. They will actively participate in research and debate, encompassing science, ethics, the environment, psychology and human behaviors. They’ll embrace their Jesuit values, take risks and learn from mistakes, and channel your unbridled energy and optimism.
And here they will follow in your incomparable footsteps, and encounter God and human knowledge in ways that will inspire their careers and change their lives … and the lives of so many others.
On behalf of a grateful nation, and your very proud alma mater, it’s my pleasure to welcome Dr. Anthony Fauci to the podium.
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