Yale revokes Bill Cosby’s honorary degree, something the college has never done in its 300-year history

Posted at 3:06 PM, May 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-02 15:06:17-04

Yale has revoked the honorary degree it granted to comedian Bill Cosby, a first in the history of the college.

The school’s board of trustees voted to rescind the degree it awarded to Cosby in 2003.

“The decision is based on a court record providing clear and convincing evidence of conduct that violates fundamental standards of decency shared by all members of the Yale community, conduct that was unknown to the board at the time the degree was awarded,” the school said in a statement.

“The board took this decision following Mr. Cosby’s criminal conviction after he was afforded due process. Yale is committed to both the elimination of sexual misconduct and the adherence to due process. We reaffirm that commitment with our action today.”

Yale was founded in 1701 and this is the first time the school has taken such an action.

“We haven’t previously rescinded an honorary degree,” spokesman Thomas Conroy told CNN.

Cosby was found guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault last week, for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his home in a Philadelphia suburb in 2004.

The 80-year-old comedian faces up to 10 years in prison on each count, but Cosby is likely to serve them concurrently. A sentencing hearing with Judge Steven O’Neill has not yet been scheduled, and Cosby remains out on bail.

The list is growing

Before his fall from grace Cosby was an in-demand commencement speaker and was awarded honorary degrees from dozens of colleges and universities. But the list of schools pulling those honors is growing.

Just hours after his conviction Carnegie Mellon University and Notre Dame rescinded honorary degrees awarded to him in 2007 and 1990, respectively.

Years before that — as the number of allegations of sexual misconduct by Cosby increased — Fordham, Marquette, Brown, the University of Pennsylvania and others also revoked their honorary degrees.

The most significant action came from Temple. The Temple University Board of Trustees decided Friday to rescind the honorary degree it gave to Cosby, one of its most famous alums and a former trustee.

In a three-sentence statement, the university said the decision was due to his conviction.

“In 1991, based on his career achievements, Temple awarded an honorary degree to William Cosby,” the statement said. “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.”

Cosby graduated from Temple and had been on the Board of Trustees for 32 years until he resigned in 2014 amid the accusations that he sexually assaulted dozens of women over decades.