Swarthmore Rescinds Bill Cosby’s Honorary Degree

"We find that his admitted personal behaviors are wholly inconsistent with our institutional values," Swarthmore President Valerie Smith said of Cosby.

Swarthmore has rescinded its honorary degree to Bill Cosby, effective immediately, the school announced.

“Mr. Cosby has testified in a deposition under oath, which was made public in July, that he routinely and premeditatively drugged women before having sex with them,” Swarthmore President Valerie Smith said. “We find that his admitted personal behaviors are wholly inconsistent with our institutional values — and ones we would never want our own students or graduates to emulate.”

Cosby earned his honorary degree in humane letters from Swarthmore in 1992. Among Philadelphia schools, Drexel stripped Cosby of his degree last month. In Pennsylvania, Lehigh, Franklin & Marshall, Muhlenberg, Pitt and Wilkes have also rescinded Cosby’s honorary diplomas.

In October, Philadelphia magazine contacted every local school that had given Cosby a degree. Haverford, West Chester and Delaware State said discussions were taking place.

Penn said Cosby would keep his honorary degree, adding it was not the school’s practice to revoke honorary degrees. It actually has done so in the past, stripping German Kaiser Friedrich Wilhelm II and German Ambassador to the United States and Mexico Johann Heinrich von Bernstorff of their honorary diplomas during World War I. “Jesus Christ,” Philadelphia magazine’s Monica Weymouth wrote in response to Penn’s statement on the issue. Cosby is also accused of groping a woman at the 2004 Penn Relays.

Temple, the Philadelphia school most closely associated with Cosby — in 1997, his wife, Camille, received an honorary degree as the school also honored several “Cosby Scholars” — told Philadelphia that no discussions have taken place related to Cosby’s degree.

Central High School has also removed Cosby from its Hall of Fame.

At Swarthmore, the Board of Trustees voted to rescind the honorary diploma. ​”The deliberations of the Honorary Degree Committee were thorough and wide ranging,” Swarthmore’s Smith said. “In the end, the committee, and the faculty during its meeting on Nov. 20, felt that the personal behaviors Mr. Cosby admitted to are so egregious that we cannot let the degree stand. The Board agreed.”

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