The Class of 2022 announced Friday that Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), has been selected as this year’s Class Day speaker. Fauci will give remarks and be inducted as an honorary class member during the celebration Monday, May 23, on Cannon Green.
Fauci is the top infectious disease expert in the United States and serves as President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser. He has been integral to the country’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“This year’s speaker is undoubtedly among the small handful of leaders who have had the largest global impact over the past few years,” Class Day co-chairs Julia Chaffers, Sarah Lee and Christian Potter said in a video message to fellow seniors. “Few people better represent Princeton’s unofficial motto, ‘In the nation’s service and the service of humanity.’”
Class Day, which takes place the day before Princeton’s Commencement, is organized by members of the senior class. The ceremony also includes speeches by graduating seniors, the recognition of class members for their contributions and the induction of honorary class members. This will be the first in-person Class Day since 2019 due to the pandemic.
“While too much of our college experience was altered due to the pandemic, his contributions to public health policy have allowed us to now be approaching an in-person graduation and Class Day after a much more normal senior year,” the Class Day organizers said of Fauci.
Santiago Guiran, president of the Class of 2022, said it is an honor to have Fauci address Princeton seniors. “Listening to a leader who has been at the forefront of combatting the pandemic will be a cathartic moment for us given all we have been through,” he said.
Fauci was appointed director of the NIAID in 1984 and has advised seven presidents on domestic and global health issues. He is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the National Medal of Science, the Mary Woodard Lasker Award for Public Service, and the Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research.
As NIAID director, he oversees an extensive portfolio of basic and applied research to prevent, diagnose and treat established infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, respiratory infections, tuberculosis and malaria as well as emerging diseases.
Fauci also has made seminal contributions to the understanding of how HIV destroys the body's defenses leading to its susceptibility to deadly infections, and he has been instrumental in developing treatments that enable people with HIV to live long and active lives. He was one of the principal architects of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), a program that has saved millions of lives.
“Dr. Fauci has contributed to public health research for over 50 years and has led national responses to numerous health crises including the coronavirus pandemic,” Chaffers said. “We are excited to learn from Dr. Fauci about what it means to dedicate our lives to service, whether through science, public policy or other fields.”
Lee said Fauci is dedicated to science, service, truth and compassion. “Our college experience was changed greatly due to the pandemic, and we've all learned the importance of empathy and compassion in living and adapting to this new normal. We firmly believe Dr. Fauci will be able to impart a message that our class can continue to take on after graduation,” she said.
The Class Day organizers said they wanted to select a speaker who represented leadership broadly.
“At Princeton, there are so many opportunities to be a leader in various communities,” Potter said. “Dr. Fauci continues in that broad tradition as a leader in the medical field who has nimbly translated his expertise into other leadership spaces throughout his career.”
Potter noted that Fauci has also offered the country comfort during the past two years.
“Despite the adverse and challenging circumstances, Dr. Fauci also tried to uplift during his press briefings and other public appearances,” Potter said. “This is just one of the ways in which he’s been an inspiring figure over the past few years, and I look forward to seeing that side of him on Class Day.” Class Day is traditionally a cheerful event known for speeches tinged with humor.
In addition to serving as director, Fauci is the longtime chief of the NIAID’s Laboratory of Immunoregulation. He has made many contributions to basic and clinical research on the pathogenesis and treatment of immune-mediated and infectious diseases. He helped pioneer the field of human immunoregulation by making important basic scientific observations that underpin the current understanding of the regulation of the human immune response.
Fauci is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society, as well as other professional societies including the American College of Physicians, the American Society for Clinical Investigation, the Association of American Physicians, the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the American Association of Immunologists, and the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. He serves on the editorial boards of many scientific journals and as an author, coauthor or editor of more than 1,400 scientific publications, including several textbooks.