Holy Cross Names Science Complex for Anthony Fauci '62, Hon. '87

National health leader and infectious diseases physician honored for lifetime of public service.

Hundreds of members of the College of the Holy Cross community stood shoulder-to-shoulder packing the Smith Hall atrium, as well as the hallways of the floors above, as its Integrated Science Complex was named the Anthony S. Fauci Integrated Science Complex on June 11. 

The buzz from their chatter soon erupted into applause and those sitting rose as one, providing an ovation for the man they were all there to see, Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., '62, Hon. '87., as he arrived for the ceremony.

In response to the boisterous ovation, Dr. Fauci, who visited campus in honor of his class' 60th reunion, approached the stage and lowered his mask, revealing an ear-to-ear smile. Bringing his hands together, he bowed his head, thanking those in attendance as the applause continued. 

"I never would have imagined in my wildest dreams when I walked on this campus in 1958 and looked at the far smaller number of buildings than are here today, that one day a building — this wonderful integrated science complex — would be named after me," Dr. Fauci said. "This was a great college 60 years ago; it’s even better today."

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Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for nearly 40 years, Dr. Fauci has advised seven U.S. presidents and has become a household name as he led the nation's COVID-19 response efforts over the past two years.

"Before COVID-19, the bobbleheads and SNL skits, and the global superstardom — Tony Fauci was a student at Holy Cross," Holy Cross President Vincent D. Rougeau said. "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."

Prior to the dedication ceremony, Dr. Fauci met with several-dozen Holy Cross students in a classroom within the complex that now bears his name. The students, most rising seniors involved in STEM research on campus, waited with eager anticipation before his arrival. 

Once he entered the room, the aura of the national figure soon disintegrated and he became an alumnus who shared stories about tight dorm rooms, icy sidewalks in the winter and studying classics as a pre-med student.

Students shared with him a tradition of "Fauci Fridays" on campus and how some edited photos of themselves to include him. Dr. Fauci, in return, shared advice he’s learned since leaving Holy Cross. "Always stay open-minded and expect the unexpected," he told the students. "Because things happened in front of me that completely changed the direction of my career."

Dr. Fauci said he enrolled in medical school with the idea of returning to New York to practice medicine. Then he found a passion for infectious diseases, specifically research that could help larger populations, rather than single individuals. 

"The passion [for people] is in all of us. I’m not better or different than anybody else. That’s for sure," he said. "You need to dig deep down. What is it that really drives you? For me, it’s something that I learned from my parents and cultivated in [high school] and cultivated in the Italian American neighborhood that I grew up in Brooklyn. It keeps getting sharpened in life."

During his career, Dr. Fauci has received 58 honorary degrees from academic institutions around the world, including one from Holy Cross in 1987. During the building dedication, Dr. Fauci received a customized lab coat bearing his name and Holy Cross.

It prompted more smiles and louder applause, but also a bit of humility. "Whether you're communicating to an audience of one or many, as my Jesuit mentors taught me, it is most important for people to understand what you’re talking about," he said. "Not for you to show off how smart you are."