Drexel Revokes Bill Cosby’s Honorary Degree

“The misconduct by Bill Cosby that came to light through his sworn deposition testimony stands in clear opposition to Drexel’s values.”


Drexel University announced today it was revoking Bill Cosby‘s honorary degree, given to him by the university in 1992.

“The misconduct by Bill Cosby that came to light through his sworn deposition testimony stands in clear opposition to Drexel’s values,” Drexel president John A. Fry wrote to the Drexel community Thursday. “Universities are critical arenas in the movement to recognize and address sexual violence and misconduct as a societal problem. Drexel takes that responsibility very seriously, and the decision to revoke Mr. Cosby’s honorary degree flows from that responsibility.”

Fry said that he made the decision after consulting with the Executive Committee of Drexel’s Board of Trustees.

Cosby got the degree when he was Drexel’s convocation speaker in 1992. Cosby spoke of “counselors who don’t know how to counsel” and “parents who don’t know how to parent” at the convocation.

He was awarded a Doctor of Pedagogy, a traditionally honorary degree given by many U.S. colleges to distinguished figures in the education field.

Cosby has received hundreds of honorary degrees, including many from local schools. Philadelphia magazine asked all of them last month if they would be revoking Cosby’s honorary degrees. Drexel didn’t respond to requests, but a spokesperson later gave New York this response: “We have not taken any action at this time.”

Drexel is not the first Pennsylvania college to strip Cosby of his diploma. Lehigh University stripped Cosby of his honorary diploma last month. In Lancaster, Franklin & Marshall revoked Cosby’s degree in a unanimous vote from the board of trustees. Across the state, Pitt is looking into it.

Of local schools, only West Chester and Haverford admitted discussing it, with Haverford’s reply looking stereotypically thoughtful: “Haverford’s Board of Managers is considering input from students, faculty, staff, alumni and Board representatives about the full range of issues attendant to this situation, beginning with the process itself: How and why are degrees awarded, and how and why could they, or should they, be rescinded?”

Cosby will be keeping his diploma at two local schools. Temple told Philadelphia magazine earlier there had been no discussions about stripping Cosby of his honorary degree. And Penn said it would not revoke Cosby’s degree, as the school said “it is not our practice to rescind honorary degrees.”

This wasn’t always the case. German Kaiser Friedrich Wilhelm II and ambassador Johann Heinrich von Bernstorff had their honorary degrees stripped during World War I.

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