UPDATE [4/27/18, 5:36 p.m.]: Updated to include details on North Carolina A&T and Boston College’s decisions to rescind the honorary degrees they had previously given to Cosby.
Twenty-six years ago, Bill Cosby was awarded an honorary degree by Temple University, the school he attended in the early 1960s before dropping out to focus on his budding comedy career. But with the veteran actor and comedian having been convicted Thursday of sexually assaulting a university employee, Temple announced Friday that it rescinded the degree, upon recommendation of its Board of Trustees.
“In 1991, based on his career achievements, Temple awarded an honorary degree to William Cosby,” the university said in a brief statement posted on its website earlier on Friday.
“Yesterday, Dr. Cosby was found guilty by a jury of the felony of aggravated sexual assault.
Today the Temple University Board of Trustees has accepted the recommendation of the University to rescind the honorary degree.”
According to Philadelphia ABC affiliate WPVI, Temple Board of Trustees Chairman Patrick O’Connor recused himself from the deliberations, as he had represented Cosby in 2005 when he was first accused of sexual assault by former Temple employee Andrea Constand.
As noted by NBC Philadelphia, Temple University’s decision to revoke Bill Cosby’s honorary degree came on the heels of several educational institutions announcing that they would also be rescinding the honorary degrees they had previously given to the entertainer. Carnegie Mellon University, Johns Hopkins University, and Wesleyan University all announced similar decisions on Thursday, joining about 20 other U.S. colleges and universities that revoked the honorary degrees they once gave Cosby, including those that did so even before the verdict was announced.
Just hours following Temple’s announcement, North Carolina A&T said that its Board of Trustees had voted in favor of revoking Cosby’s honorary degree, according to a subsequent report from WRAL. Furthermore, Boston College, which had previously cited school policy in choosing not to revoke the honors it had once given Cosby, revised its stand on the issue, confirming the decision in an email to Metro USA.
“In light of his conviction, Boston College has made the decision to rescind the honorary degree it awarded to Bill Cosby in 1996,” wrote Boston College spokesman Jack Dunn.
In the years since Bill Cosby received his honorary degree from Temple, the Cosby Show star was seldom present for the university’s board meetings, though he nonetheless served as Temple’s “public face” as a prominent celebrity who had once attended the school. He was, however, a regular at Temple Owls basketball games, which was where he first met Constand. The former Owls women’s basketball administrator alleged that she was assaulted by Cosby after she was rendered unconscious by three blue pills the comedian had given her.
The situation with Bill Cosby and Temple University is not unusual, following the emergence of the #MeToo movement late last year and the host of male celebrities and public figures accused of sexual harassment or sexual assault. NBC Philadelphia’s report mentioned how the University of Buffalo revoked an honorary degree it had once awarded to film executive Harvey Weinstein, while Fordham University also rescinded a similar honor previously given to news anchor Charlie Rose. However, there have been educational institutions that have chosen not to revoke honorary degrees per school policy, such as the Juilliard School for Kevin Spacey.