Fauci, Corbett to speak to live UNC Commencement crowd

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- UNC-Chapel Hill announced plans for its 2021 Commencement with the inclusion of speakers who are two of the biggest names in COVID-19 research: Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, a Carolina alumna.

The university said there will be a live graduation with graduates being able to invite two guests.

"Let me assure you that these decisions did not come easy and we do not take lightly our responsibility to protect the health and welfare of our campus community, neighbors and your loved ones," UNC Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz wrote in a release. "After consulting with University leaders, the Orange County Health Department, our infectious disease and public health experts, and the class of 2021, we are giving graduates the choice of joining us for a safe, outdoor, in-person ceremony or celebrating virtually. Undergraduate students in the class of 2021 overwhelmingly told us that they wanted to attend an in-person event, and we are doing everything we can to make that happen, especially at the end of such a tough academic year. We also know that some graduates prefer a virtual event, and we will livestream the ceremony for those who would rather watch it from home."

Fauci and Corbett will speak virtually. Guskiewicz said Fauci and Corbett "embody our University's mission of teaching, research and service, and their commitment to saving lives through discovery and innovation will inspire us all."

Corbett, a research fellow and scientific lead at the National Institute of Health, is an Orange County native who was instrumental in developing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

Corbett was also recently named to TIME Magazine's 100 Next List.

Fauci has been Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984.

Guskiewicz said that to comply with current mass gathering restrictions, UNC will hold multiple in-person, ticketed ceremonies on May 14, 15 and 16 in Kenan Stadium. The ceremonies will be led by a small platform party and feature live and recorded content.

Graduates will be grouped by their school or department in the College of Arts & Sciences so that classmates can celebrate together. The schedule for each school and department will be released after ticket registration closes.

Attendees must follow all COVID-19 community standards and the stadium will close after each ceremony for cleaning.

UNC will not have the traditional processional as graduates would have to stand too close to each other, the school said.
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