Fordham, Marquette and Brown Revoke Bill Cosby’s Honorary Degrees


They want the robe back too, Cos...

They want the robe back too, Cos…

From a Brown University release last week:

“It has become clear, by his own admission in legal depositions that became public this summer, that Mr. Cosby has engaged in conduct with women that is contrary to the values of Brown and the qualities for which he was honored by the University in 1985. On Friday, September 25th, the University’s Board of Fellows held its first regularly scheduled meeting since that information became available. The Fellows deliberated and determined to revoke and rescind the honorary doctorate conferred upon Bill Cosby by Brown University.”

This was the right thing to do, and the three universities—Fordham and Marquette had beaten Brown to the dishonoring of Cosby by a few days— all deserve praise for doing it. No, this verdict isn’t inconsistent with my post condemning Disney’s decision to remove Cosby’s bust in its Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame Plaza. I made it very clear that the problem with that decision was that it involved withdrawing an honor that had nothing do with Cosby’s character, and was one that was earned and still warranted:

“…Last I heard Bill Cosby was still recognized as a major trailblazer in stand-up, TV comedy, and television integration (remember “I Spy”?), an important positive cultural force for race relations and black community self esteem, and a spectacularly talented comedian with a unique voice and presence. None of that has changed. Those were the achievements that prompted Cosby’s bust’s inclusion in Disney’s Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame Plaza, along with celebrities such as Lucille Ball and Oprah Winfrey who, like the Cos,  have been inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame. O.J. Simpson is still honored in the College Football Hall of Fame, because he was one of the greatest college stars ever. His post-career hobby as a murderer, like Bill’s extra-curricular activities as a serial rapist, have nothing to do with the honor, just as Cosby earned and still deserves, his honor for what he achieved on stage and screen.”

As Brown’s president notes in the release, Cosby was specifically honored in Brown’s citation bestowing the degree for his “ability to integrate [his] personal character into fictional personae that simulate real life while embracing such cherished American values as honesty, fair play, love of family, and respect for humanity.”  It’s hard to even read that now without giggling, gagging, or going mad. It was a degree achieved under false pretenses. Universities withdraw real degrees when it turns out that a grad cheated or lied to get one. This is no different. Cosby’s whole public image was a lie.

There are still 23 colleges that haven’t–so far— rescinded their honorary degrees for Cosby.

They should.


Pointer: Rick Jones.

8 thoughts on “Fordham, Marquette and Brown Revoke Bill Cosby’s Honorary Degrees

  1. Well the University of San Francisco, a Jesuit run university has also revoked his honorary degree which is not surprising. I believe that there are some others taking similar action. I wonder what he will do with all those useless placks.

  2. In exactly what way are honorary degrees “achieved”?

    They are a stunt performed by the school (probably to get a speaker to appear).

    In my view, they can say they revoke it, but that means absolutely nothing other than they exercised bad judgment and they regret it.


    • I think they are “stunts” only so much as calling them degrees (though modified by “honorary”). I don’t see an issue with Univesities, Colleges, well ANY institution/organization/company bestowing recognition for major life achievements to people they deem worthy of such recognition.

      Such recognition isn’t necessarily a stunt. Though it may be if the motives are less related to life achievement and more related to other factors like politics / donations / speaking invitations etc…

  3. You can’t say that they exercised bad judgement when the facts were not in evidence at the time, just as a university will grant a degree if they do not know a student has cheated, and then revoke it later when the facts come to light.
    Had Cosby’s behaviour been known they would never have given him the honours in the first place.

    • Not so sure, Paul. How many Broadway and Hollywood producers with well known and busy casting couches were (and continue to be) granted honorary degrees by schools with drama departments anxious to look as if they were and are well regarded by and connected to “the industry?” Bunches, I’m guessing.

      • I agree there OB, but the point is these places honoured him when there was no evidence of misconduct Therefore JutGory is not correct to say they exercised bad judgement in giving the award in the first place.

        By that logic all institutions from kindergarten up should withhold ‘certificates’ for eighty years in case they then discover a problem!

        Lets just not even start on arty types and their all to frequent belief that they have a right to set the moral standards etc. etc. etc for society. One of my all time favourite movie lines comes from the Get Smart movie. When a henchman says that tripping a nuke in Hollywood will kill heaps of actors Siegfried replies:”Where will we he without their insightful political commentary!”. Gets me every time. Anyone who believes that sarcasm is the lowest form of whit doesn’t understand whit or sarcasm!

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