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November 25, 2015

Cosby degree rescinded

The University has rescinded the honorary doctor of humane letters degree awarded to Bill Cosby during Pitt-Johnstown’s 2002 commencement ceremony.

Cosby was informed of the action Nov. 12, said Ken Service, vice chancellor for communications.

Chancellor Patrick Gallagher made the decision following a unanimous recommendation from the University committee for honorary degree recipients, Service told the University Times.

“The committee found that certain actions on Mr. Cosby’s part — unknown to the public at the time and subsequently admitted by him — were in conflict with the stated basis for awarding the degree and inconsistent with the core values and principles of the University,” Service said.

Cosby publicist David Brokaw did not respond to a request for comment on the University’s action.

Dozens of women recently have accused the entertainer of drugging and/or sexually assaulting them in incidents that date back to the 1960s.

Cosby has not been charged with any crimes in relation to the allegations.

Seven women have joined in a suit filed in federal court in Boston, alleging that Cosby and his attorney defamed them by denying their allegations of abuse.

In a separate, similar defamation case in Los Angeles, Cosby is appealing legal action brought by Janice Dickinson, a model who is suing Cosby over his denials of her claims that he drugged and raped her in 1982. A California appeals court on Nov. 12 granted a stay, halting a plan to depose Cosby. The judge in that case has ordered briefs to be filed by Nov. 30.

The University joins a growing number of institutions that, in the wake of the sexual misconduct allegations against the comedian, have rescinded honorary degrees awarded to Cosby.

According to published reports, nearly 60 institutions have awarded Cosby honorary degrees since 1985.

In addition to Pitt, Drexel and Bryant universities earlier this month rescinded Cosby’s honorary degrees, following similar actions by Baylor, Brown, Fordham, Franklin and Marshall, Lehigh, Marquette and Wilkes universities.

Other schools, including Carnegie Mellon, which bestowed on Cosby an honorary doctorate of humane letters in 2007, reportedly are reviewing those awards.

Still others are refusing to revoke Cosby’s honors, saying the degrees were awarded based on what was known at the time they were presented.

—Kimberly K. Barlow        

Filed under: Feature,Volume 48 Issue 7

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