Dr. Craig Klugman: The professor whose name we should all know by now

Dr. Craig Klugman, a professor of health sciences.


Dr. Craig Klugman, a professor of health sciences.

“Uh, is this a sports question?” He might not know a lot about sports and chose Michael Jordan over LeBron James, but Dr. Craig Klugman is quite informed on pandemic and disaster response, public health, bioethics and medical anthropology. 

Klugman has been a health sciences professor at DePaul since 2013 and has been an expert resource while serving on DePaul’s Covid-19 task force.

He has a master’s degree in medical anthropology from Case Western Reserve University and has continuously studied emerging infectious diseases since. He also earned his doctorate in medical humanities from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. 

Klugman told The DePaulia that much of his immediate experience came from his time at University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. There, he took the lead in putting together the university’s pandemic response plan. 

He was asked by the state of Texas to be part of its crisis standards of care planning in 2009 –– an effort by the National Academy of Medicine to get every state and large city to engage in crisis planning. 

When he moved to Illinois, the state had started its own crisis series of care projects –– which covered pandemics, earthquakes, natural disasters and terrorist incidents. He served in that project for five years; the last meeting was planned to take place in April 2020, but it was canceled by the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

What is your position here on DePaul’s Task Force, what was your role and how did you delegate with other members?

When DePaul created the Covid-19 task force last spring, DePaul Health –– a group of faculty whose research and teachings are on areas of health –– requested the university have a representative from the group be on the greater DePaul task force. DePaul Health asked Klugman to serve as a representative because of his past experience in working on pandemic planning and response. 

Shortly after, he began attending 8 a.m. meetings five days a week. 

“And it was really these meetings, and it was just up to me to speak out,” Klugman said.  “Like people were saying, ‘Craig, what do you think’ and it was just me going, ‘So I probably know a little bit about this. Let me tell you something.’ So it was really just kind of pushing my way into the conversations.” 

Later last spring, the response task force that Klugman was on shifted its focus to reopening. There, a community health subcommittee emerged that Klugman also served on.

“We would meet several times a week, sometimes several times a day, just to sort of talk about the latest issue and the latest need and what was coming to us,” Klugman said. “We still meet every week, we’re still dealing with things. We have to deal with the newest thing which is we’re just reopening as a city. So it’s really that group that has been the leadership. I can’t take individual credit at all for this, because we’ve pushed together.”

When asked if he expected to be interviewed by media outlets, especially The DePaulia, which has interviewed him for countless stories, Klugman laughed.

“I actually have a long history of working with the media,” he said. “I’m one of the two co-faculty coordinators of the DePaul op-ed project, which teaches faculty how to write for a public audience. And so I have been interviewed by the media for the last 20 years. This is not new. It is more frequent, more often than I’m used to. But it’s certainly not a new role for me.” 

What has been the biggest learning experience this past year? 

“One is that we can do a pretty good job with online learning… I think there will be some permanent changes in our society as a result of that,” Klugman said. 

“And the second one was… that I learned was that, you know, being on this task force, I suddenly was one of the very few faculty members, maybe three of us, who was now working all administrators, and how do you get change? How do you get people to listen to you and take you seriously and make big decisions based on what you were saying, and so learning that process of working with the administration in a large organization to move them to action. That was definitely a new learning experience for me.” 

What do you miss the most about teaching or being on DePaul’s campus before the pandemic happened?

“I miss the energy of engaging with students,” Klugman said. 

He also misses something others might not so much: impromptu hallway conversations. 

“You just run into somebody and you start having a conversation and that conversation could lead to a new research project, or it could lead to a policy or it could lead to a change in your class,” he said. 

“Everything I think online has to be planned, it has to be formal. And that impromptu curbside conversation or running into each other in the hallway –– I miss that very much.” 

Personally, not as a professor or a researcher, what was the hardest obstacle you had to overcome in the course of the pandemic? 

“I live alone,” Klugman said. “And so I think it’s that I have been in a room by myself for 15 months, 16 months now. My family lives 1200 miles away, so there was no option of seeing them. So I think it’s just the extreme isolation. I do have a cat and a dog, and they have been very good company. But it’s the lack of having contact with any people. That’s been hard.”

His dog is named Bonzai and she is a 12-year-old mutt. His cat is named Tolstoy and is six years old. 

Where do you want to go when all travel restrictions are lifted? 

“I’m a big traveler. I’ve visited over 40 countries,” Klugman said. “I have this dream of going to Bali.” 

He also said that he wants to go to Australia, a place he’s never been to. Last week he delivered a presentation to a conference that was being held virtually in Australia and was talking at 2 a.m. 

What kind of hobbies did you pick up during the pandemic? 

“I’m a knitter. I usually do scarves but scarves became baby blankets because they were bigger projects that I could do.” 

He has also been involved with improv for quite a while and took online improv classes and has explored new aspects of Netflix and HBO Max. 

“Oh and yoga, I developed a daily yoga habit.” 

White Sox or Cubs? 

“Cubs, I’m a North Sider.” 

What is your Zodiac sign? 

“I’m a Scorpio.” 


What is your favorite spot on DePaul’s campus? 

“I actually really love the quad. It’s peaceful. There’s a little piece of nature in the middle of the city. I love watching the trees as they change seasons.” 

Favorite CTA line? 

“I live off the Red Line so I have to go with that.” 

Other fun facts about you? 

“I lived in –– a big chunk of my life –– in Texas. But I grew up in New Jersey actually.” 

Klugman has lived in eight or nine states, but the most peculiar one so far has been Nevada. 

“Oh my god. It’s a really unique place,” he said. “I lived in Reno. I was at the University of Nevada, Reno. It’s a small town. There’s nothing for hundreds of miles. But it’s the desert.” 

“I’m a warm weather person, like summer. Summer is my thing. Yeah, warm and dry.” 

“I don’t understand y’all,” Klugman said of cold weather people. “You know, my favorite winter activity is staying inside.”