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As the scandal over Bill Cosby has grown, many colleges have removed his name from buildings or programs that honored him. Now some institutions are revoking honorary degrees he received -- and most colleges rarely if ever revoke such degrees. Fordham University announced such a move last week. Marquette University and Brown University have also now revoked degrees awarded to Cosby. A statement from Marquette President Michael R. Lovell and Provost Daniel Myers described the rationale for the move. “By his own admission, Mr. Cosby engaged in behaviors that go entirely against our university’s mission and the guiding values we have worked so hard to instill on our campus,” the statement said. “Every day, we live these values by challenging our students to integrate knowledge and faith into their real-life decisions in ways that will shape their lives. With those values in mind, let us all remember that the foundations on which our great university was built remain as important today as ever.
The Associated Press quoted Brown University President Christina H. Paxson as saying that Cosby has admitted in depositions to conduct (namely drugging women and having sex with them without their consent) “contrary to the values of Brown.”
All three universities cited Cosby’s own statements about his conduct. A letter from one of Cosby’s lawyers obtained by People magazine objects to the universities’ actions, insisting that Cosby has done nothing wrong. The letter says of the Fordham statement: “The statement grossly mischaracterizes both Mr. Cosby's actions and his deposition testimony, in language more befitting a tabloid journal rather than a respected institution of higher learning.”