University Rescinds Bill Cosby’s Honorary Degree
Determination based on actor’s sworn testimony
After careful consideration, the Boston University Board of Trustees voted last Thursday to revoke the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters conferred on Bill Cosby at the 141st Commencement ceremony in May 2014.
A statement sent by President Robert A. Brown to the BU community on Monday said the board’s decision “was based on a determination, supported by Mr. Cosby’s sworn deposition testimony, that his treatment of women has brought significant and lasting discredit upon himself and is inconsistent with the University’s mission and values. Mr. Cosby’s admitted conduct, which the University learned about only after awarding him the degree, demonstrates that his character fails to reflect the integrity and virtues that the University values and esteems in members of its community, and in those persons the University holds up for this particular honor.”
The full statement may be found here.
Boston University made the right move…Standing behind my alma mater.
This is sad, but inevitably necessary. Bill Cosby has been a great comedian; his comedy offers shrewd insights into society & human nature as well as amusement. But his sexual misconduct is something that BU & other institutions should not be associated with. (BU should have considered that his misconduct was already known in 2014.) An honorary degree honors both the grantee & granting institution. BU would be dishonored by continuing the association with Cosby. “Ïnnocent until proven guilty” matters, yes, but far more in a court of law than in the court of public opinion. And rescinding an honorary degree is easier to justify than taking away one that reflects real academic achievement.
Proud of Dr Brown’s and Trustees decision. SMG 79, MED 84.
The accusations against Cosby were already mounting when he was awarded the degree in May, 2014.
Proud of BU!! Integrity first!! Good move!! SPC/COM 85
If someone was awarded the Congessional Medal of Honor for heroism in 1990 and was accused of rape by various people in 2015. Would/should the government rescind the award even though no criminal charges had ever been filed? What ever happened to being innocent until being proved guilty in a court of law?
As a once proud retired employee of Boston University I am disappointed in it’s failure to remain fair and objective!
Really David? How can you put the congressional Medal of Honor and a honorary degree on the same level? I don’t think Bill Cosby risked his life for his honorary degree. Stay disappointed, cause your alone on that island! GO B.U.
I agree with David on the principal.
Do I think Bill Cosby is a saint? Nope. Do I think he might be a poor role-model and he could have criminal charges, etc that are found true? Sure.
But in the end, taking away something awarded? It just depends. Why did BU award it in the first place? IF THAT WERE FALSE, then yes, strip him. So if it was based on the fact that he treated women well and was not a criminal was the sole basis of his degree awarded, then yep, strip it (particularly after found guilty — I’m honestly not sure where he is in any sort of judicial affairs, I’ve got little time to monitor every celebrity’s misfortune and misdeeds or accomplishments).
Another GOOD Example: Lance Armstrong. He had his awards rescinded, but… he earned them based on the lie he was found guilty of (using performance-enhancing methods that were not legal with which to compete). So I say again, if the crime (upon found guilty!) is a cornerstone of why the original award was bestowed upon and that merit is a direct correlation to its issuance, strip it.
If that is not the case, this is a poor recognition of what an honorary degree truly is meant to do and be. If nothing else it serves as a way for BU to gain notoriety for what they did. Great, so we’re capitalizing on other’s misfortune and mistakes. If that’s the case, boo.
I don’t care whether he has a degree from BU or not – it does not change my decision to receive an education and whether it is from BU or not. Bad people get degrees from good Universities ALL THE TIME. We will find this is true over a period of time to be 1:1 in correlation and all Universities will have at one time or another harbored a murderer, rapist, etc.
Do not waste your time revoking degrees unless the correlation is directly related to the foundation upon which the degree was bestowed. There are better ways to using academic funds. I do not care about Bill Cosby. If anything it highlights that a degree can be rescinded by BU if I receive enough traffic violations.
If you feel that traffic violations can be equated to the likely rape of nearly 50 women, then something is very wrong with your moral calculus. Also, your characterization of serial rape as Cosby’s “misfortune and mistakes” is again quite telling of your own values.
Should you claim you doubt the allegations, dismissing so many voices as all being in cahoots for some preposterous end which has garnered them no financial gain, you should bear in mind that Cosby himself has verified in testimony under oath that he obtained seven prescriptions of quaaludes with the intention of giving them to women – an act which is in total synch with the claims.
As for the remainder of your argument, yes- someone being considered a worthy educator IS undermined by serially preying upon and traumatizing others based upon one’s standing. If that were not enough, he used his relation specifically with higher education to victimize at least one woman at Temple University.
I guess every-one’s degree will be in jeopardy should the administration disagree with their private lifestyle. Perhaps next it will be political or religious views. Also, I think in this instance, there is a clear distinction concerning allegations, vs proven actions.
Peter…I think we can all agree that this goes well beyond Bill Cosby’s private lifestyle.
I don’t know if Cosby is guilty or innocent of the allegations. In fact he is now countering in several instances.
It may be premature for us to judge.
Some of the relations may have been mutual, then it certainly is not my business. If he paid for sex, promised reward for sex, seduced women, that may or may not be a crime depending on the jurisdiction.
Reportedly, he obtained Prescription drugs with the intention of giving them to women, But, I am not aware that he actually did.
Being into foodie culture and fine wines is a lifestyle. Being an outdoorsy person is a lifestyle. Drugging and raping women is not a lifestyle, private or otherwise.
This is an honorary degree which is awarded to those deemed worth of special recognition. The actual Ed.D. was awarded by UMass Amherst, based on academic achievement. Revoking that one, I dare say, is likely not in jeopardy.
All of this would have been unnecessary if the Boston University Board of Trustees would have performed the necessary background checks before the awarding of the honorary degree. Hopefully they have learned from this incident and won’t repeat it.
Thank you for this bold move. Abused women matter more than a famous name and you have helped the world come a little closer to understanding that.
Happy to hear! BU should show that it will not knowingly honor men who sexually abuse women.