Two weeks after the former Penn Trustee Steve Wynn was accused of multiple accounts of sexual misconduct, Cornell University has decided to revoke the Hospitality Icon Award that was given to the hotel mogul last year. This is the latest development in the ongoing fallout from an investigation launched by the Wall Street Journal detailing a "decades-long" pattern of misconduct.
This public statement was released on Feb. 9 by Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration.
“While we acknowledge Mr. Wynn’s innovations in the hotel and casino industries, we have decided to rescind the award, as we can no longer consider Mr. Wynn to be an exemplary role model for the industry and, more importantly, for our students,” the statement read.
"We have read with dismay the reports of his sexual misconduct, including the high incidence within his organization. Service employees are particularly vulnerable, and hospitality leaders have a keen responsibility to ensure that they provide a safe working environment for their employees, free from harassment of any kind."
Cornell's announcement comes a week after Penn made the historic decision to strip Wynn of an honorary degree granted to him in 2006. In addition, the University announced that they would remove the name “Wynn Commons” from the common area outside Houston Hall, and remove Wynn’s name from the scholarship fund that he established by donation.
While some legal experts say that the Universities stripping Wynn of his honors may be violating provisions in their contracts with the 1963 Penn graduate, Vice President for University Communications Stephen MacCarthy has said otherwise.
"The actions we took were consistent with our values and ethical principles, and consistent with our legal obligations," MacCarthy wrote to The Daily Pennsylvanian this week.
In recent weeks, Wynn has also has stepped down as the CEO of Wynn Resorts, citing “an avalanche of negative publicity,” reported by NBC News.
Some students have applauded this gesture, but also criticized it, too. “The first thing I thought of was that it was a symbolic gesture and a much needed additional response would be to implement a serious grievance procedure so that students who experience sexual harassment have a process to go through,” fifth-year Graduate School of Education student Mark Lewis expressed.