Dr. Anthony Fauci, former director of the National Institute of Allergy...

Dr. Anthony Fauci, former director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, at a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in 2021. Credit: AP/Alex Brandon

Dr. Anthony Fauci, who guided the nation through the COVID-19 pandemic and was scheduled to deliver a Dec. 21 commencement speech at Hofstra University, has pulled out of the event, the university said Friday in a release.

The release said Fauci’s team had cited an “unavoidable and unanticipated conflict” and expressed “regrets for the cancellation.”

Brooklyn-born Fauci, who served as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the National Institutes of Health for almost 40 years, had been scheduled to address 600 undergraduate, graduate and law students at the university’s Mack Sports and Exhibition Complex on the university’s North Campus in Hempstead. He was also scheduled to receive an honorary degree.

Hofstra’s ceremony will go on as scheduled and an update to the program will be “announced shortly,” a Hofstra release said. Spokeswoman Deborah Jerome said the school doesn't know anything about the conflict beyond what Fauci said about it being "unavoidable and unanticipated."

Announcing the event in October, Donald Schaeffer, chair of the Hofstra board of trustees, had said this year’s graduating students “are among those whose schooling was interrupted by COVID-19, and Dr. Fauci's address will undoubtedly bring their experience full circle. As a doctor and a medical scientist who has served with honor and distinction, he will help make this a special event for the graduates and their families."

Fauci is listed as a speaker with at least two celebrity booking agencies; they did not respond to requests for comment.

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