White House chief medical advisor Anthony Fauci is among the four 2022 Distinguished Service Medalists bestowed with Teachers College’s highest honor when the TC Community gathers in May for its first in-person Convocation exercises in three years.
The observances, including a ceremony celebrating 2020 and 2021 graduates denied a traditional conferring of degrees by COVID-19, are scheduled for May 22 and 23 at the Louis Armstrong Stadium, on the campus of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
In addition to Fauci, the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), the medalists include:
- Rosemarie Truglio, Senior Vice President of Curriculum & Content for Sesame Workshop and a former TC faculty member
- Torian Easterling, First Deputy Commissioner & Chief Equity Officer at the NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene; and
- Kathryn Garcia, Director of New York State Operations and a former New York City mayoral candidate.
“I can’t imagine more worthy recipients of the College’s highest honor,” President Thomas Bailey said of the four medalists. “It is a tribute to the extraordinary accomplishments of our 2020, 2021 and 2022 graduates that they will be joining us for Convocation.”
Fauci will deliver a pre-recorded address to the 2020 and 2021 TC graduates at a May 22 ceremony. Fauci has since the mid-1980s advised presidents and piloted the nation through the HIV/AIDS, Ebola, Zika and COVID public health crises. First and foremost an educator, he has championed science-directed policy decisions and a reliable advocate for the health and wellbeing of vulnerable populations.
He was one of the principal architects of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), a program that has saved millions of lives throughout the developing world since it was launched during the George W. Bush administration in 2003. In addition to serving as a key health policy leader, Fauci’s own research endeavors include numerous accomplishments related to better understanding the mutation of immune-mediated and infectious diseases, as well as their treatment.
Following Fauci’s address to 2020 and 2021 graduates, Easterling, Truglio and Garcia will offer observations and insights on the theme of this year’s Convocation — “change” — at Convocation exercises for the Masters I, Masters II and Doctoral candidates.
The Doctoral Hooding Ceremony medalist, Garcia, will be honored for her service to New Yorkers in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and for spearheading the delivery of nutritious meals to locked down residents as NYC “food czar” in the early days of the pandemic. As the Director of State Operations, Garcia oversees a broad range of areas in Governor Kathy Hochul’s office, including everything from disaster response to the daily management of state affairs.
Throughout her robust public service, Garcia served as the city’s Sanitation Department Commissioner and also headed a major initiative to eliminate childhood exposure to lead poisoning. Garcia rose to public prominence during her run for mayor of New York City, in which she garnered support from the New York Times and voters alike, ultimately securing the second-place spot in the Democratic primary.
While doctoral degree recipients hear from Garcia, Masters I graduates will hear from Truglio, an Assistant Professor of Communication & Education at TC from 1990 to 1997, who now channels cutting-edge research to the benefit the Pre-K Sesame Workshop learners. In her role at the Sesame Workshop, Truglio oversees the development of the interdisciplinary curriculum and content across platforms.
Truglio, during the health crisis, guided a Sesame Workshop multimedia campaign, “Caring for Each Other,” a road map for children and families navigating the challenges of the pandemic. An acclaimed authority on child development, she is the author of numerous journal articles and books, including 2019’s Ready for School! A Parent’s Guide to Playful Learning for Children Ages 2 to 5.
Addressing Masters II graduates, Easterling serves as the New York City Health Department’s top official on non-COVID health matters, as well as the agency’s inaugural leader dedicated to internal and external equity.
Easterling’s work in the field of public health can be found in the post-war rebuild of Liberian health care, the response to the public health crisis in the wake of the 2010 Haitian earthquake and as the architect of a door-to-door outreach plan as the coronavirus disproportionately devastated underserved New York City neighborhoods.
“Called to public health service because of [his] passion for social justice, health equity, and movement building,” Easterling has dedicated himself to the eradication of the link connecting racism to inequitable health outcomes.