Spelman Issues Statement on Cosby Ties

November 26, 2014

Spelman College, which has found itself receiving questions about its ties to Bill Cosby, on Tuesday released a statement that noted that its ties are to Cosby and other family members, not just to the comedian who has found himself accused of drugging women and forcing them to have sex (charges he has denied). Spelman has to date not commented on whether it will seek to distance itself from Cosby, and didn't comment for an Inside Higher Ed article about a number of colleges with Cosby ties. But while that article simply noted the no comment, other websites have suggested Spelman was backing Cosby (although there have been not quotations to that effect). TMZ, for example, ran an article called "Bill Cosby-Spelman College -- We Still Have Your Back."

In Tuesday's statement, President Beverly Daniel Tatum reviewed the Cosby gifts to the college, noting that they were from Bill Cosby and Camille Cosby, his wife, and that the Cosby building on campus is named for her, not him. She writes that "at this time there are no discussions regarding changes to the terms of the gift."

"While I cannot control how media outlets position information, and more than one has distorted our statement, I think it is important that all of you have the facts," Tatum writes. "Two Cosby daughters attended Spelman College. Our building is named after Dr. Camille Olivia Hanks Cosby. The endowed professorship is named after both Cosby parents. The historic $20 million gift that the college received in 1988, more than 25 years ago, came from the Cosby family.  Though it is not appropriate for the College to comment publicly on specific allegations against any individual, sexual assault is a profoundly serious issue for any educational institution.  Please know that we do not condone sexual violence in any form and understand our critical role as a women’s college to lead in the fight against it.  I trust you will read all news media critically, informed by these facts."


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