Dr. Anthony Fauci to deliver 2021 Vanderbilt Graduates Day address

studio photo of Dr. Anthony Fauci
Dr. Anthony Fauci is the Vanderbilt University Class of 2021 Graduates Day speaker. (Contributed photo)

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top leader in infectious disease research and an internationally renowned biomedical scientist, will receive Vanderbilt University’s prestigious Nichols-Chancellor’s Medal in May 2021 when he speaks to the university’s graduating students and their families.

“As science and public health have taken on unprecedented urgency over the past year, Dr. Anthony Fauci has courageously led the nation’s COVID-19 response despite bitter politicization of the disease,” said Vanderbilt Chancellor Daniel Diermeier. “Dr. Fauci embodies the collaborative, can-do spirit that we hold dear at Vanderbilt, and we are honored to award him the Nichols-Chancellor’s Medal in this most pivotal year.”

Fauci’s streamed address will be on May 14, which is Graduates Day for the Vanderbilt Class of 2021. Graduates Day celebrates all graduates and traditionally occurs the day before the university’s Commencement ceremony, which is scheduled for May 15–16. The virtual event with Fauci will be open to the entire Vanderbilt community and to the public.

The Nichols-Chancellor’s Medal, one of the university’s highest honors, is given to individuals who define the 21st century and exemplify the best qualities of the human spirit. It was created and endowed by Vanderbilt Law School graduate Ed Nichols and his wife, Janice, in honor of Edward Carmack and Lucile Hamby Nichols.

Since 1984, Fauci has served as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, where he oversees an extensive research portfolio focused on infectious and immune-mediated diseases. He is also chief of the NIAID Laboratory of Immunoregulation, where he has made many seminal contributions in basic and clinical research.

Fauci has advised seven presidents on HIV/AIDS and many other domestic and global health issues. He was one of the principal architects of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, a program that has saved millions of lives throughout the developing world.

Fauci is one of America’s most recognizable physician-scientists. He became a popular public figure when the White House Coronavirus Task Force, on which he served, began holding daily press briefings in March 2020. In addition to his leadership of the NIAID, he now serves as chief medical adviser to the Biden administration and is a member of its COVID-19 response team.

Fauci received his bachelor’s degree from the College of the Holy Cross and his medical degree from Cornell University Medical College. He then completed an internship and residency at The New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center.

Fauci has been honored with numerous awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the National Medal of Science, the George M. Kober Medal of the Association of American Physicians and the Mary Woodard Lasker Award for Public Service.

Caroline Kennedy in front of American flag
Caroline Kennedy is the Vanderbilt University Class of 2020 Graduates Day speaker. (Contributed photo)

The university will host separate in-person Commencement ceremonies for the Class of 2021 and Class of 2020 that follow the guidance of local, state and federal public health authorities and adhere to their health and safety guidelines.

Caroline Kennedy, bestselling author, attorney and former U.S. ambassador to Japan, will speak virtually at Vanderbilt as the Graduates Day speaker for the Class of 2020 on April 30. Her talk was rescheduled from last year due to the postponement of Commencement during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Registration details on the talks by Fauci and Kennedy will be announced later.

For more information about Graduates Day and other related events, visit the Vanderbilt Commencement website.