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  • Writer's pictureMaxxwell Guffey

Dr. Anthony Fauci Visits UIC

Dr. Fauci, chief medical advisor to seven presidents, as well as the face on the Chancellor’s favorite mug, took the time to come to UIC’s campus to be a part of an event titled “Chair Chats with Chancellor Miranda.” This is a brand new event series. It is the first of its kind during Chancellor Miranda’s tenure. She has said that there is more to come, with different guests to be announced at a different time. This new event series premiered at the UIC Dorin Forum on February 20th, 1:00pm-2:15pm.

The format of the event was very simple. Two UIC-red chairs, with the Chancellor in one and the esteemed guest in the other. With accessibility features such as closed captioning projected on the left and right sides of the stage, as well as an ASL interpreter, it was designed to be inclusive for the large crowd of people. The crowd was made up of students, professors, staff, health officials, and many others who were intrigued by Dr. Fauci’s thoughts and experience. One notable guest was former Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who sat in the front row of the event.

The Chair Chat was an interview with Chancellor Miranda giving questions, most of which were submitted by multiple students from UIC, such as asking for advice on having a career in public health and insight on how to create more equity in public health policy.

He gave advice for young people who are interested in pursuing a career in public health: “My advice to young people is to not let [controversy] deter you from pursuing your dream of public service… the gratification and satisfaction of what you can accomplish in the arena of public health outweigh the negative aspects…”

He went on to talk further about how young people who are interested in public health and public service are now more important than ever in dispelling the rise of disinformation. His main goal in being a part of this Chair Chat was to encourage people to get involved in public health, giving the advice: “Public service isn't only officially designated public service… you can be in a job that many people have that contributes to public service.”

He continued, “Get out there and counter this amazingly deep issue of disinformation. Don't give up.”

His biggest advice for upcoming public health officials was to “be more interested in the person with the disease than the disease in the person... get involved in something that gives to society instead of takes from society."

Dr. Fauci will be awarded the Paul H. Douglas Award of Ethics in Washington, D.C., later this March. This was announced by Chancellor Miranda after complimenting him for being “a hero three times over” for the work he has done saving lives during multiple health crises.

He talked about his long history of being at the forefront of research and leading the response to the AIDS epidemic. He stated, “I put together a program that was ultimately designed to treat 2 million lives, prevent 7 million infections… $15 billion over five years… announced it at the State of the Union of 2003… we had saved 25 million lives, and that was the PEPFAR program.”

He acknowledged that there is a lot that he would have changed in his handling of the initial COVID-19 response, but he said, “Society needs to understand that when scientists change their recommendations, that’s not flip-flopping. That’s what science is.”

Throughout the event, three attendees stood up and protested the Chair Chat. It started with one person, who stood up in the middle of the crowd to protest Chancellor Miranda. The person shouted to the panel, “You have no shame,” and “How many of these events do I have to attend to be heard?” They were escorted off from the Forum after being given a chance to stop interrupting the event by staff. The crowd and panel, after the protest, appeared almost unphased by this. A few people in the crowd responded loudly, shouting “Take Her Out!” and “I couldn't even hear what you were saying.” One voice emanated from the back, saying, “Don't touch her!” as the protester was being pulled away from the room.

Dr. Fauci and Chancellor Miranda did not initially acknowledge what had happened and continued the interview. It was not until another person arose from their seat and protested the event that they were promptly escorted out of the event. Security staff escorted them out of the room as they shouted, “You are complicit in a genocide!”

After this happened, Chancellor Miranda said to Dr. Fauci, “Welcome to the university,” in response.

Dr. Fauci looked to the crowd and stated, in regard to the protests, “They can be much more effective if they pick out the right people to attack. I have nothing to do with Israel. I have nothing to do with Palestine.”

A third person, who identified themselves as an honors student, arose from their seat to protest. They were swiftly escorted out of the room. Shouting emanated from the outside, startling the same crowd that had earlier shamed the first protestor. The protesting continued outside of the Forum event, where a crowd of students held signs and protested.

The event ended with Chancellor Miranda reading off a farewell to Dr. Fauci written by a 2002 Masters of Public Health graduate who stated, “Thank you for leading when we needed you most.”

After the event swiftly concluded, Chancellor Miranda stuck around to take photos and chat with the attendees. She revealed more details about the mug she displayed for the crowd to see. She revealed that it was a gift from one of her friends, and she uses the mug quite frequently. She was able to secure Dr. Fauci as a guest because she serves on a board that he is also a part of, so when they have Zoom meetings together, she makes it a point to hold up and drink from the cup on camera for him to see.

People asked her who the next Chair Chat guest would be, and she replied, saying that the university is not ready to reveal who it is next. This means that there will indeed be more public interviews hosted by the Chancellor in the near future.



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