In Reversal, GW Is Latest to Rescind Cosby Degree

January 12, 2016

In an about-face, George Washington University announced Monday that it would rescind the honorary degree it awarded Bill Cosby in 1997, joining more than a score of other institutions that have done the same over the last year.

As recently as October, the university affirmed that Cosby would retain the degree because “honorary degrees are conferred at a moment in time, based on what the university knows about the honoree at that time” and “it has never been the university’s practice to rescind an honorary degree.”

However, in a letter sent to the student body Monday, President Steven Knapp said, “Since then, however, I have continued to discuss this issue with students as well as colleagues. What has particularly moved and impressed me has been the argument that, whatever may ultimately be determined about the guilt or innocence of Mr. Cosby in a court of law, the controversy itself has become a cause of renewed distress for our students and alumni who are survivors of sexual assault. That makes this case different, in my considered judgment, from other cases in which the assessment of a degree candidate might be altered by subsequent information or events. I have therefore decided that the university will rescind Mr. Cosby’s honorary degree.”

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