37 universities on the status of Bill Cosby's honorary degrees

University of Connecticut revokes Bill Cosby's honorary degree

Bill Cosby has been the recipient of nearly 60 honorary degrees — everything from fine arts, music, education, and law — since his ascent into the world of comedy and acting in the 1960s. They are, like all honorary degrees, practically worthless. Even so, they do represent a public association between the conferring university and the recipient, one that in this case has become highly undesirable after the revelations of nearly 60 women who have publicly accused Cosby of sexual assault and rape. Some of the universities — including Fordham, Marquette, Spelman, Tufts, and Brown — have already severed ties with Cosby. Many of the rest find themselves in uncharted waters, wondering how and if to proceed.

Curious to learn more about how they view those honorary degrees (or if they're even aware they gave Cosby one), Vulture reached out to more than 40 of the remaining universities. Of them, 37 agreed to comment for this piece, while two schools — Amherst College and Springfield College — announced their decisions to revoke his honorary degrees while this piece was in production. Many of the rest share a certain befuddlement over how to address a terrible situation for which they had no game plan. Unless otherwise specified, all responses are from official university spokespeople. (Comments have been edited for clarity and grammar.)

Berklee College of Music
"In 2014, the college removed Bill Cosby's name from an online scholarship awarded annually for online study. We are actively engaged in internal discussion to determine our course of action in regard to the honorary degree presented to Bill Cosby in 2004."

Boston College
"Bill Cosby was awarded an honorary degree from Boston College in 1996 in recognition of his role as an actor and humorist and his work on behalf of education. While the recent allegations against him are reprehensible, as a matter of policy, Boston College does not rescind honorary degrees."

Boston University
"We're still monitoring legal developments in the cases."

Here are all of Bill Cosby's accusers:

List of accusers against Bill Cosby
See Gallery
List of accusers against Bill Cosby

Andrea Constand

Date of alleged assault: January 2004
Date of accusation: March 2005

(REUTERS/Mark Blinch)

Linda Ridgeway Whitedeer

Date of alleged assault: Early 1970's
Date of accusation: August 12, 2015

(Photo by MARK RALSTON via AFP/Getty Images)

Former actress Eden Tirl

Date of alleged assault: Early 1970's
Date of accusation: August 12, 2015

(Photo by MARK RALSTON via AFP/Getty Images)

Colleen Hughes

Date of alleged assault: Early 1970's
Date of accusation: August 12, 2015

(Photo by MARK RALSTON via AFP/Getty Images)

Lise-Lotte Lublin

Date of alleged assault: 1989
Date of accusation: February 12, 2015 

(Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Linda Brown

Date of alleged assault: 1969
Date of accusation: February 12, 2015 i. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Katherine McKee

Date of alleged incident: 1970s
Date of accusation: Dec. 22, 2014

(NY Daily News)


Date of alleged incident: 1988
Date of accusation: Dec. 19, 2014


Beverly Johnson

Date of alleged incident: mid-’80s
Date of accusation: Dec. 11, 2014


Jewel Allison

Date of Alleged Assault – late 1980s
Date of Accusation – Nov. 24, 2014

(Photo by Debbie Egan-Chin/NY Daily News via Getty Images)

Linda Joy Traitz

Date of Alleged Assault – 1970s
Date of Accusation – Nov. 22, 2014


Angela Leslie

Date of Alleged Assault – 1992
Date of Accusation– Nov. 21, 2014


Victoria Valentino

Date of Alleged Assault – 1970
Date of Accusation – Nov. 21, 2014

(Photo by Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Louisa Moritz

Date of Alleged Assault – 1971
Date of Accusation – Nov. 20, 2014

(Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)

Michelle Hurd

Date of Alleged Assault – mid 1990s
Date of Accusation – Nov. 20, 2014

(Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)

Barbara Bowman

Date of Alleged Assault – 1986
Date of Accusation – Nov. 13, 2014


Marcella Tate

Date of Alleged Assault – 1975
Date of Accusation – 2015

(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Joan Tarshis

Date of Alleged Assault – 1969
Date of Accusation – 2014

(Matt Moyer For The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Margie Shapiro 

Date of Alleged Assault – Early 1970's
Date of Accusation – 2015

(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Lynn Neal

Date of Alleged Assault – 1980's
Date of Accusation – 2015

(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Sammie Mays

Date of Alleged Assault – Mid 1980's
Date of Accusation – 2015

(Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)

Linda Kirkpatrick

Date of Alleged Assault – 1981
Date of Accusation – 2015

(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Janice Baker Kinney

Date of Alleged Assault – 1982
Date of Accusation – 2015

(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)


Date of Alleged Assault – Early 1990's
Date of Accusation – 2015

(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Autumn Burns

Date of Alleged Assault – 1970
Date of Accusation – 2015

(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)


Carnegie Mellon University
"Carnegie Mellon is having internal discussions regarding Bill Cosby's honorary degree. The university has not made a decision at this time. We have no further comment."

Colby College
"We have no comment at this time."

Colgate University
"Yes, the notion of revoking Bill Cosby's honorary degree is under discussion, and I expect there to be a decision to share soon."

Cooper Union
"We have no comment at this time."

Delaware State University
"The issue of Bill Cosby's 2001 honorary doctorate he received from Delaware State University has not been an agenda item of any of our four Board of Trustees meetings that have been held this year, and as such has not been discussed by the board publicly. I should note that there are relatively few people currently at DSU that were a part of the university in 2001. Most, if not all, of the current DSU leadership didn't even know that an honorary doctorate had been awarded to him at DSU until it became a media subject over the last few weeks."

Drew University*
"Drew will examine the Cosby honorary degree (granted in 2001) soon, and a decision will be made and shared in the next few weeks."

Drexel University*
"We have not taken any action at this time."

Fashion Institute of Technology
"Bill Cosby received an honorary degree at the Fashion Institute of Technology's commencement exercises in 2000. As a college of the State University of New York (SUNY), FIT submits honorary degree nominations to SUNY, which then reviews, approves, and confers the degree. In light of current events, FIT will review the decision to award the honorary degree to Mr. Cosby. Any recommendation to change the status of the award would be submitted to the State University of New York for its consideration. In any event, we do not comment on ongoing internal discussions."

George Washington University
"While we are shocked and disturbed by the allegations against Mr. Cosby, honorary degrees are conferred at a moment in time, based on what the university knows about the honoree at that time. It has never been the university's practice to rescind an honorary degree."

Haverford College
"We have never rescinded an honorary degree. Haverford's Board of Managers is considering input from students, faculty, staff, and alumni about the full range of issues attendant to this situation, beginning with the process itself: How and why are degrees awarded, and how and why could they, or should they, be rescinded?"

John Jay College of Criminal Justice (From President Jeremy Travis)
"It's being recommended to me, and then ultimately to the board that [the degree] be rescinded. The conversations started between me and the leadership of the faculty senate at the beginning of the academic year, so that means late August, something like that. The faculty senate put it on their agenda for discussion through their governance process on October 14. They voted overwhelmingly, 47 affirmative and 1 negative and no extensions, so that's a pretty powerful vote for a resolution, recommending that the degree be rescinded. That has been forwarded to me, and I have forwarded it to the chancellor of the university with endorsing their recommendation wholeheartedly that the honorary degree be rescinded. Then the process goes to the Board of Trustees of the university, which authorized John Jay — this is before my time — but authorized John Jay to award the degree, and we're now recommending that the degree be rescinded in light of what we now know about Mr. Cosby's actions."

Johns Hopkins University
"At this point, we do not have anything to say."

New York University
"NYU views the reports of Mr. Cosby's conduct with the utmost concern and seriousness. We expect this matter to be taken up at the next meeting of the board, but until then any comment would be premature."

See photos of Bill Cosby throughout his career:

Bill Cosby through the years
See Gallery
Bill Cosby through the years
July 1973: The actor, Bill Cosby, in Perth. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 16: Actor Bill Cosby leaves his New York City home accompanied by his wife, Camille (L,) and a young woman with her hands over her face, believed to be one of his four daughters, enroute to Los Angeles, CA, 16 January 1997 after his son Enis William Cosby was found shot to death along a California freeway. The young Cosby, 28, was found in a pool of blood after he stopped to change a flat tire. (Photo credit should read BOB STRONG/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, : Actor and comedian Bill Cosby (R) and his wife Camille arrive at the White House 06 December for a reception prior to being honored at the 21st annual national Kennedy Center Honors. Cosby and the other honorees will be saluted later 06 December at a performance in the Kennedy Center's Opera House. AFP PHOTO/CHRIS KLEPONIS (Photo credit should read CHRIS KLEPONIS/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, UNITED STATES: Co-hosts Oprah Winfrey and Bill Cosby joke with each other during the opening of the 2000 Essence Awards 14 April, 2000 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Actor Danny Glover and basketball star Michael Jordan were two of the honorees at the ceremonies sponsored by Essence Magazine. AFP PHOTO/Matt CAMPBELL (Photo credit should read MATT CAMPBELL/AFP/Getty Images)
386603 06: Rachel Robinson and Actor Bill Cosby, who was the Master of Ceremonies, share a moment March 12, 2001 at The Jackie Robinson Foundation 2001 Awards Dinner at The Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. (Photo by George De Sota/Newsmakers)
NEW YORK, UNITED STATES: Actor Bill Cosby arrives at the NBC 75th Anniversary Special at Rockefeller Plaza in New York 05 May 2002. The actual anniversary fell on 15 November, 2001. AFP PHOTO Doug KANTER (Photo credit should read DOUG KANTER/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 9: Actor Comedian Bill Cosby shows off the Presidential Medal of Freedom he received from U.S. President George W. Bush during a ceremony July 9, 2002 at the White House in Washington, DC. The medal is the highest civilian award given to those who have made meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
PHILIDELPHIA - MAY 22: Comedian and member of the Board of Trustees of Temple University Bill Cosby enters the arena prior to speaking to the graduates of the Class of 2003 at Temple University's commencement ceremony in The Liacouras Center May 22, 2003 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Don Murray/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - SEPTEMBER 21: Actor Bill Cosby poses backstage with his 'Bob Hope Humanitarian' award during the 55th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at the Shrine Auditorium September 21, 2003 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Carlo Allegri/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA - DECEMBER 12: Comedian Bill Cosby introduces the film 'Fat Albert' at Temple University's Liacouras Center for the world premiere of 'Fat Albert' December 12, 2004 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The film, based on Bill Cosby's 'Fat Albert' cartoon series of the 70's, opens nationwide Christmas day. (Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - DECEMBER 11: Comedian Bill Cosby performs at the Apollo Theater on December 11, 2005 In New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 14: (AFP OUT) Entertainer Bill Cosby speaks during a taping of 'Meet the Press' at the NBC studios October 14, 2007 in Washington, DC. Cosby spoke on the new book he co-authored 'Come On, People: On the Path from Victims to Victors.' (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images for Meet the Press)
NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 19: Bill Cosby arrives at the Esquie Magazine and Village Academies event honoring Bill Cosby at Esquire North November 19, 2007 in New York City. (Photo by Rob Loud/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 26: Comedian Bill Cosby poses for photographers at the 12th annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor at the John F. Kennedy Center on October 26, 2009 in Washington, DC. Cosby is this year's honoree. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - JUNE 08: Bill Cosby and his wife Camille Cosby speak onstage at the Apollo Theater 75th Anniversary Gala at The Apollo Theater on June 8, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA - APRIL 6: Bill Cosby, Ed.D. poses for pictures before accepting the Marian Anderson Award at a gala concert produced in partnership with The Philadelphia Orchestra April 6, 2010 at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - MARCH 08: Comedian Bill Cosby attends the Jackie Robinson Foundation Annual Awards Dinner at the The Waldorf Astoria on March 8, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for The Jackie Robinson Foundation)
LAS VEGAS - OCTOBER 09: Actor/comedian Bill Cosby speaks onstage during Andre Agassi Foundation for Education's 15th Grand Slam for Children benefit concert at the Wynn Las Vegas October 9, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The event raises funds to help improve education for underserved youth in the Las Vegas community. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 02: Comedian Bill Cosby promotes new book 'I Didn't Ask To Be Born: But I'm Glad I Was' at the Barnes & Noble, 5th Avenue on November 2, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 10: Bill Cosby accepts the Impact Award for 'The Cosby Show' with (L-R) actor Malcolm-Jamal Warner, presenter Stevie Wonder, actors Raven-Symone and Sabrina LeBeauf onstage at the 9th Annual TV Land Awards at the Javits Center on April 10, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 07: Host Bill Cosby speaks onstage at the 2011 Jackie Robinson Foundation awards gala atThe Waldorf=Astoria on March 7, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for The Jackie Robinson Foundation)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 14: Bill Cosby performs during the Screen Gems Presents The Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation Gala at Cipriani Wall Street on May 14, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation)
BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 13: Actor Bill Cosby gestures to the crowd after throwing out the first pitch prior to the game between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees on September 13, 2012 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 05: Bill Cosby hosts the Jackie Robinson Foundation Awards Gala at The Waldorf=Astoria on March 5, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for The Jackie Robinson Foundation)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JUNE 15: Actor/comedian Bill Cosby speaks onstage during the 100th anniversary celebration of the Beverly Hills Hotel & Bungalows supporting the Motion Picture & Television Fund and the American Comedy Fund hosted by Bill Cosby at the Beverly Hills Hotel on June 15, 2012 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images for BHH)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 06: Bill Cosby performs at the 7th annual 'Stand Up For Heroes' event at Madison Square Garden on November 6, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 22: Bill Cosby speaks during the 55th Anniversary of Ben's Chili Bowl on August 22, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 04: Dr. Bill Cosby speaks onstage at the The Jackie Robinson Foundation Annual Awards' Dinner at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel on March 4, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for The Jackie Robinson Foundation)
LAS VEGAS, NV - SEPTEMBER 26: Comedian/actor Bill Cosby performs at the Treasure Island Hotel & Casino on September 26, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 26: Comedian Bill Cosby addresses the Press Room during the 2014 American Comedy Awards at Hammerstein Ballroom on April 26, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 10: Actor/comedian Bill Cosby performs onstage at Funny Or Die Clubhouse + Facebook Pop-Up HQ @ SXSW - Day 2 on March 10, 2014 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 26: Comedian Bill Cosby attends 2014 American Comedy Awards at Hammerstein Ballroom on April 26, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
MELBOURNE, FL - NOVEMBER 21: Actor Bill Cosby performs at the King Center for the Performing Arts on November 21, 2014 in Melbourne, Florida. (Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)

North Carolina A&T State University
"North Carolina A&T State University grants honorary degrees following a vetting process based on a person's contributions and merit that we know of at the time. We have been in conversations regarding the awarding of Bill Cosby's honorary degree, and a decision will also go through a similar vetting process."

Oberlin College
"The matter is under consideration."

Ohio State University
"Like many of our peer institutions, Ohio State is very concerned by the reports regarding Bill Cosby, and the honorary degree he received in 2001 is under review."

Old Dominion University
"The Board of Visitors (BOV), the governing body for Old Dominion University, awards honorary degrees. Any decision on rescinding Bill Cosby's honorary degree would need to be approved by the BOV during one of their scheduled meetings. The next BOV meeting will take place in December."

Pepperdine University
"Pepperdine has no provision to rescind honorary degrees, and we do not plan to create a new policy for Mr. Cosby. The university is deeply troubled by the recent allegations which have come to light. We have not had any contact with Mr. Cosby since 1998, and we do not anticipate reestablishing a relationship with him in the future."

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
"We have no plans to rescind Mr. Cosby's honorary degree at this time."

Rust College
"At the present time, we have no plans to make any changes to Dr. Cosby's honorary degree."

Sisseton Wahpeton College (from President Harvey DuMarce)
"We are a small American Indian tribal college way out in South Dakota. A majority of our students are tribal members. Their age range varies between nontraditional- and traditional-age students. However, a majority of our students are female, single parents of at least two children. I am not a spokesman for the students; they can speak for themselves. At this time, Bill Cosby's honorary degree with the Sisseton Wahpeton College has not been rescinded. While his alleged sexual improprieties are in the national headlines and we see those same headlines, too, his predicament, real or not, is not of any interest to our people way out here in South Dakota. Bill Cosby is a national figure that was once seen on television in the 1980s, but he is not of importance in our lives. Our younger students will likely say, 'Who is Bill Cosby?' He may be a big fish in the larger mainstream American society for public consumption, but out here he is of no consequence because he does not touch the lives of people out here. At the same time, many of our students will probably believe all those stories about him because they are being discussed and reported in the media. Our Board of Trustees will have to initiate formal action to rescind his honorary degree, but thus far they have expressed no opinion on his alleged crimes. If necessary, I can submit a formal request to them at the November 2015 regular board meeting."

Swarthmore College
"The college has not taken any action to date."

Talladega College
"At this time we have no additional comments to the statement we gave and which was published by the New York Times [which were 'We give out honorary degrees based on what we know at the time and at the time he was everybody's favorite dad']."

Temple University
"There has been no conversation about making a change."

The College of William & Mary
"William & Mary bestows honorary degrees based on information known at the time when they are conferred, and these awards do not constitute a standing endorsement of an individual's moral character. William & Mary has never rescinded an honorary degree."

University of Cincinnati
"I have no information for you at this time. Events involving our campus this summer continue to be the current focus of our efforts and attention at this time."

University of Connecticut*
"We're having thoughtful discussions at UConn about the issue, but no decisions have been made so far."

University of Notre Dame
"As it does with all candidates for honorary degrees, Notre Dame weighed carefully the information in the public record on Bill Cosby before he was accorded the honor 25 years ago. Had the kind of deeply disturbing allegations surfaced then that have been made since, Notre Dame wouldn't have considered awarding the degree. However, it is not the practice of the university to rescind an honorary degree previously awarded to individuals for achievements recognized at those times and, in the absence of criteria applicable retroactively to all, we have no plans to do so now in his case alone. However, the question spotlights the insidiousness of sexual assault and the pervasive silence that has often allowed offenders to escape responsibility, and we recommit ourselves to doing all we can to prevent sexual assault. We encourage and support our students and others to report sexual assault and remind them that a person incapacitated — whether by alcohol, drugs, or otherwise — is incapable of giving consent to sexual activity."

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
"The university has been in the process of considering whether to rescind the degree for several weeks."

University of Pennsylvania
"I'm afraid I have nothing new to report. Sorry."

University of Pittsburgh*
"The university committee that reviews and recommends candidates for honorary degrees will be reviewing the honorary doctor of humane letters degree awarded to Bill Cosby. The degree was originally awarded to Mr. Cosby in 2002 at the commencement ceremony on our Johnstown campus. The committee will meet sometime this semester and make a recommendation to the administration. A date for the meeting has not been set, but a decision on the matter will be made before the end of the current semester."

Virginia Commonwealth University
"Bill Cosby received an honorary degree from VCU in 2008 based on what was known at the time of his professional accomplishments. Because VCU honorary degrees carry no special rights or privileges there is no precedent or policy for revoking them. The behavior detailed in the allegations against Cosby is despicable and anathema to VCU's values as an institution. VCU has taken definitive actions and made significant investments in student and employee education, counselors, investigators, police, and safety programs to protect and support our community against sexual violence. There is no tolerance for sexual violence at VCU."

Wesleyan University
"Wesleyan's position on rescinding honorary degrees has not changed."

Yale University
"The university has never rescinded an honorary degree and has not rescinded his."

We also reached out to Bryant University, Hampton University, Howard University, University of South Carolina, University of Southern California, and West Chester University, but received no response. Paine College and University of Maryland responded that they have no comment.

*Update: Drexel rescinded Cosby's honorary degree on November 12.

*Update: Pittsburgh rescinded Cosby's honorary degree on November 13.

*Update: Drew rescinded Cosby's honorary degree on November 16.

*Update: The University of Connecticut rescinded Cosby's honorary degree on June 29.

RELATED: Carla Ferrigno also blames Bill Cosby's wife:

Carla Ferrigno Also Blames Bill Cosby's Wife For Alleged Sexual Assault

Read Full Story

Sign up for Entertainment Insider by AOL to get the hottest pop culture news delivered straight to your inbox!

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.