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October 15, 2015

Pitt to review Cosby’s honorary degree

The University plans to review the honorary doctor of humane letters degree awarded to Bill Cosby as Pitt-Johnstown’s 2002 commencement speaker.

Ken Service, vice chancellor for communications, said the committee that recommends honorary degrees would meet before the end of the term to consider rescinding the award. No date has been set. Service said that the provost confirmed that the committee would review the award in response to an inquiry by The Pitt News. It was unclear whether the student newspaper’s request sparked the action or if a review already had been planned.

Cosby gave a deposition last week in connection with a lawsuit brought by a woman who says he molested her at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles in 1974, when she was 15. Some 50 women have accused the entertainer of drugging and/or sexually assaulting them in incidents that date back to the 1960s.

Cosby has denied the allegations.


The New York Times reports that Cosby has received at least 57 honorary degrees since 1985.

Institutions have taken different tacks in response to the sexual misconduct allegations: Baylor, Brown, Fordham, Marquette and Wilkes universities all recently rescinded Cosby’s honorary degrees. Yale and Talladega College have taken no action.

Others, like Pitt, have yet to decide.

Service said there appears to be no precedent at Pitt for rescinding an honorary degree.

—Kimberly K. Barlow   

Filed under: Feature,Volume 48 Issue 4

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