Category: University News

Title: Dr. Fauci Reflects on How He Has Lived Out Jesuit Values in His Career

Dr. Anthony Fauci reflected on how his Jesuit training has shaped his decades-long career in medicine and public service during the annual induction ceremony for Georgetown’s student-led chapter of Alpha Sigma Nu, the national Jesuit honor society.

Fauci, a Distinguished University Professor at Georgetown’s School of Medicine and the McCourt School of Public Policy, has a long history with Jesuit education starting from when he attended Regis High School, a Jesuit school in New York City, and then the College of the Holy Cross.

Alpha Sigma Nu membership, the highest award conferred by Jesuit colleges and universities, recognizes juniors and seniors who demonstrate a commitment to service and the Jesuit ideals of education. During the ceremony for 101 inductees and three honorary members, including Dr. Fauci,   he spoke on the three pillars of Alpha Sigma Nu — scholarship, loyalty and service.

“The Jesuit call to serve others was again among the key factors that led me to start my career as a physician-scientist by joining the NIH in 1968,” Fauci said in his remarks.

Fauci spent 54 years serving in the National Institutes of Health. Recounting his time in the 1980s confronting the AIDS epidemic, Fauci described how he, against the advice of his mentors, redirected his career to tackle the disease. When he was selected as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, he was charged with building an HIV and AIDS research program from scratch.

As the face of the government’s response to the epidemic, Fauci endured personal attacks and demonstrations protesting the government’s progress in handling the disease. In the process, Fauci said he stayed true to his Jesuit training, especially its emphasis on service, to forge ahead.

“I did something many of my peers were intimated to do, I invited some of the activists up to my office to engage them in a conversation,” Fauci said. “And when they were not shouting and when I listened carefully, a lot of what they were saying made sense and I realized that if I were in their shoes, I would be doing exactly what they were doing — protesting and demonstrating.

“Loyalty to the Jesuit ideals of caring for and service to others was the consistent driving force for me over those 43 years that I was involved in the AIDS saga,” he said. 

Fauci also emphasized the value of scholarship, especially during a time of increased mistrust in academia and rampant misinformation.

“Complacency about rampant untruths imperils democratic societies everywhere. That is why universities, and particularly Jesuit universities, are crucial bastions for championing scholarship that defends intellectual integrity and the truth.” 

Fauci ended his remarks with a charge for the newest members of Alpha Sigma Nu and a message of hope.

“Our country and the world are relying on you to put your Jesuit training into practice and continue throughout your lives to be staunch defenders of the Jesuit principles that you are learning so well at this extraordinary institution,” he said. 

“I have great faith that as Jesuit ideals become the cloth of your character as you carve a career path out in the world, you will be among the civic leaders protecting, restoring and building our world into a better place.”