On Thursday, Drexel University announced its decision to rescind entertainer Bill Cosby's honorary degree, which he received in 1992. Cosby has been accused of sexual misconduct by over 50 women, with one accuser saying she was assaulted at the Penn Relays in 2004.
"The misconduct by Bill Cosby that came to light through his sworn deposition testimony stands in clear opposition to Drexel's values," Drexel President and former Penn Executive Vice President John Fry wrote to the Drexel community on Thursday. "Universities are critical arenas in the movement to recognize and address sexual violence and misconduct as a societal problem. Drexel takes that responsibility very seriously, and the decision to revoke Mr. Cosby's honorary degree flows from that responsibility."
Drexel joins a growing cohort of colleges and universities that have chosen to rescind Cosby's degrees. Penn, however, maintained on Nov. 6 that it does not plan to do the same.
“While the allegations against Mr. Cosby are deeply troubling, it is not our practice to rescind honorary degrees,” Vice President for University Communications Steve MacCarthy said in a statement last week.
MacCarthy said he had nothing further to add when asked to clarify Penn's policy, given that the University has, in fact, rescinded two honorary degrees in its history.
German Kaiser Friedrich Wilhelm II was awarded an honorary degree in 1905, and German Ambassador to the United States and Mexico Johann Heinrich von Bernstorff received one in 1911. Both had their degrees rescinded in 1918 following the United States’ diplomatic break with Germany during World War I.
Other schools that have rescinded Cosby's degrees include Amherst College, Baylor University, Brown University, Fordham University, Franklin & Marshall College, Goucher College, Lehigh University, Marquette University, Spelman College, Springfield College, Tufts University, the University of San Francisco and Wilkes University.
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