ITHACA, N.Y.—Cornell University’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic received some high praise this week from one of the primary architects of America’s handling of the COVID-19 public health crisis.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, who currently serves as the chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden and the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, effusively praised the school’s testing and containment strategy over the last year, though the school’s one millionth test administered prompted the official recognition. Fauci is also a Cornell graduate, having graduated from the university’s medical school in New York City in 1966. The letter, which can be read in full at the bottom of this article, was first mentioned by Cornell officials earlier this week at their regularly scheduled Greater Ithaca Town Hall event.

He commended the school for the frequency of the surveillance testing program, the quick turnaround of results, evaluation committees to manage any potential outbreaks, and the establishment of its sequencing laboratory.

“I am certain that this program, in concert with the public health measures that Cornell put into place, was key for the success you have had in protecting the health of your community and maintaining an in-person residential educational program,” Fauci wrote.

The testing effort was accelerated this semester as Cornell increased the frequency with which it was testing its students. At least in part, that has helped identify positive tests early and control spread, though it hasn’t been entirely successful—a party involving on-campus students led to the university’s MBA program to revert to fully online classes for a week.

Further, Fauci praised Cornell’s work with the Tompkins County Health Department, which has been particularly noted in press releases over the last few months regarding the presence of new COVID-19 strains that have appeared locally.

“An effort of this scale could only have been achieved through the diligence and skill of hundreds of people working together, and I applaud each and every one of you for your contributions to fighting this pandemic,” Fauci concluded. “I am thrilled to recognize this achievement and sincerely congratulate you on the occasion of the milestone.”

Read the full text of the letter here:

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is the Managing Editor at the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at