To Revoke or Not: Colleges That Gave Cosby Honors Face a Tough Question

Oct 07, 2015 · 253 comments
trudy (<br/>)
People should receive degrees unless they actually, you know, earn them.
cb (mn)
Honorary degrees have no significance, importance, value whatsoever. They are only a social construct of the liberal left to assuage misplaced guilt from a pretend past. The recipients of the pretend (degrees) typically are populated by America's unqualified 'protected class' who have been promoted throughout their pretend lives at the expense of the qualified, i.e., the final outcome of race based affirmative action policy, the poster children of the unqualified. Absent the radical left, normal Americans remain cowed, too embarrassed, frightened to speak what they think. But, everyone already knows this..
LT (New York, NY)
I agree that universities need to stop giving honorary degrees. I spent over 30 years in higher education and I saw that almost all of such "degrees" were given to people from whom the college received big donations or from people they were courting for donations. It is insulting for those of us who worked so hard to obtain a doctorate, earned by only 50% of those who enter doctoral programs. These honorary recipients who, in most cases have bought these "honors" should not be called "Doctor" anything.
I anm happy to read that Fordham, where I earned by doctorate, has rescinded Cosby's honorary degree.
Rick in Iowa (Cedar Rapids)
Hmm. Maybe schools shouldn't give out "Honorary Degrees." Maybe only degrees of earned merit.
Jon (NM)
"As dozens of women have accused Bill Cosby of sexual abuse, colleges across the country are grappling with the honorary degrees they gave him."

This is hilarious.

No, even without a conviction I am convinced Bill Cosby is an awful guy, and he may have even committed crimes.

But because he is BLACK, we can talk about revoking his honors.

And yet every time someone flags a Confederate flag, that person is honoring and defending a heritage that included married, church-going white slave owner having non-consensual sex with slaves and then enslaved their own mixed race children.

So does this mean all white Southern war "heroes", who betrayed their country and the U.S. Constitution, will also be defrocked of their places of honor?

Of course not!
Mike Ovitz (Los Angeles)
When are the people around Cosby, who knew what was going on but chose to quietly continue cashing checks, going to be called on to account for themselves? Because they can't feign surprise. A staffer on The Cosby Show was fired & blackballed for turning in this script way back in 1992--after Cosby had already been doing this stuff for 20+ years! : http://thelostcosbyshowepisode.blogspot.com/
Rich (Palm City)
Yale won't take away an honorary degree but they are going to pretend that John C. Calhoun never existed because was a southern Senator.
csw (TX)
Cosby performed hate crimes. If he were Caucasian and performed violent crimes against African American men, the dithering over his accountability would come into sharp focus.

How esteemed are women? Just follow the Cosby story.
Bill Van Dyk (Kitchener, Ontario)
When all options seem unpalatable, it's useful to go back to origins. Why did colleges and universities give Cosby honorary degrees? Because some petty administrators wanted a chance to meet a celebrity. Why do celebrities accept them? Obviously, for the prestige. Many people won't decode the meaning of "honorary". It's all very shabby and compromising and should be done away with.
jrgolden (Memphis,TN)
You know what, the same people who wish to crucify this man in the court of public opinion missed something. He has yet to be charged, much less convicted of these allegations. Fisk, Dillard, Spellmen, et al this man has done more, financially, and in other ways for HBCU's than just about any other celebrity of color has done. The same people who want you to rescind those degrees's are the same people who question your mission, won't send a check or child to attend, and would close you down if they could. Big picture!
Karen Gross (Washington DC)
Try this hypo (former law professor here): what if an honorary degree recipient in 2014 at University X was found guilty in 2015 of murdering his child in 2000 and it only came after his surviving child came upon some evidence. Assume the recipient was charged, convicted by a jury, lost on appeal and now sits in jail -- leaving behind one child and a former spouse. Suppose, too, he was honored because he was a published author (actor? scientist? Medieval Scholar?). Yes he still has that body of work; but he has the blood of another body on his hands. When one gets an honorary degree, the wording is something like this: "This degree is granted with all the rights, benefits, privileges, responsibilities and obligations thereunto appertaining. Well, that is forward looking -- meaning by its own terms, the degree can be pulled if the recipients don't live up to the granting institution's expectations. Sure, that would be rare. And, in law, we say rare cases make bad law. Not here. Revoke the honorary degree. The recipient, Cosby, either before or after or both, failed to carry out the rights and responsibilities thereunto appertaining. Check the language of those honorary degree folks. He lost these degrees by their own terms.
Mark Shyres (Laguna Beach, CA)
Karen, as a former law professor, do you always convict a person before they are found guilty or not guilty? Or simply when they are accused. In an case, you lost credibility in your first sentence.
Martin (New York)
Has anyone ever had their nobel prize or their oscar taken away? Honorary degrees are tacky enough as it is. Why make them even more tacky by taking them away?
ellienyc (new york city)
Agree. But there is one Cosby degree I would like to see questioned -- the doctorate he allegedly "earned" from UMASS and which is the apparent basis for him requiring people to address him as "Doctor Cosby." I understand much of that degree was earned through "life experience credits" bestowed on him by a UMASS dean with whom Cosby and his wife socialized in the Berkshires.
Mark Shyres (Laguna Beach, CA)
How many members of congress demand to be called "revered" and, exactly what are they referred of? Nothing, but their egos.
Eugene Gorrin (Union, NJ)
If a person is convicted of a crime, does the institution where he or she earned a degree (whether high school, undergraduate, graduate, law, etc.) take it away? I believe the answer is no - he or she met the qualifications to earn that degree. You can't wipe it out and say he or she never attended the school, graduated or earned a degree.

These institutions made a judgement at the time the honorary degree was given to Mr. Cosby. They should live with that decision. But on a going-forward basis, I don't think he will be receiving - and he shouldn't receive - an honorary degree from any institution again (unless Donald Trump is willing to give him a HUGE honorary degree from Trump U).
FSMLives! (NYC)
Cosby has not been convicted of a crime yet.
DCBinNYC (NYC)
Extra credit to Spelman College, where the Cosbys have had ties for years and have given $20 million. Not only did they end the Cosby professorship (it's easy to change the letterhead) but it's been reported that they gave Cosby's foundation the money back (and that's a big hit for a small college).
Brian E Smith (Sydney Australia)
They'll probably be kicking themselves should he ever face a jury on all of these allegations and or charges if ever laid and be acquitted.
kilika (chicago)
The 'so-called man' needs to be brought in front of a judge. A very sick person needs to be confronted with the truth. The damage and pain he caused is unbelievable.
Catherine (New Jersey)
Degrees are earned, not bestowed. There is honor in Richard Feynman's rejection of an honorary degree. I call on recipients of these silly things should send theirs back as a form of protest. Do they really want something in common with Cosby?

So too, should all who posses a Presidential Medal of Freedom. A university is free to do whatever they'd like, but it is a disgraceful kick in the gut that our nation bestowed such a thing on the likes of Mr. Cosby.
Brian E Smith (Sydney Australia)
Did the nation bestow it or was it a gift from President Geo.W Bush? Is this a medal that is at the discretion of the President alone?
Michael Lent (Los Angeles)
Schools like Yale should issue people like Cosby an amended "dishonorary degree."
Working Mama (New York City)
There have been no criminal charges or convictions regarding Cosby, other than in the courts of gossip and media. So much time passed between alleged events and any public raising of allegations that it is likely impossible to prove or disprove anything conclusively to the standards of a court of law. Given that, the degree to which Cosby's positive contributions and reputation have been demolished is troubling.
Web (Alaska)
Cosby, like many human beings, has done both good things and bad things. The more interesting issue is honorary degrees. They are often given to recognize merit in the arts and letters. Dr. Samuel Johnson, the great dictionary writer, essayist, biographer, poet, and playwright, did not earn a bachelor's degree. He couldn't afford to stay in college, but wrote for magazines for a living until he established himself as an outstanding scholar. His MA was honorary, too. Then there's Ralph Stanley, God love him, a great entertainer with no academic pretensions whatever, who loved his degree and performed as Dr. Ralph Stanley after receiving his award. Dr. Johnson, Dr. Stanley, Dr. Livingstone, Dr. Feelgood, Dr. Who?
Village (Lower Manhattan)
Never liked the concept of honorary degrees. Sure, anyone with even a remote knowledge of academia knows it's just symbolic, but it makes the school look cheap and it cheapens the hard work and effort of the degree holders who've earned it.
c3gc (Princeton, NJ)
Please! Who cares if an honorary degree is revoked? Is it going to cost him anything at all? Money? He has more than he can ever spend. Prestige? He has none to lose. Is it going to help the school educate the students? Move on.
FSMLives! (NYC)
Until Mr Cosby has actually been convicted of a crime, this is trial by media and the NYTs should rise above it.
Kristi (NYC)
The Times reports news. Given who Cosby was (or rather, who he convinced us he was) to this country, the stripping of his honorary degrees is newsworthy. People like to see some justice done, this is as close to justice as Cosby will get and that we'll see.
FSMLives! (NYC)
Vigilante justice is not 'justice' by any standard.
tintin (Midwest)
It was due to his public persona that Cosby received the honorary degrees in the first place. Now it is due to his disgraced public persona that they are being revoked. A court decision was not necessary in either situation. Furthermore, there is nothing "vigilante" about believing the accusations of more than 40 women. Cosby is a predator, and that I feel very comfortable concluding with our without a court of law involved.
Ichigo (Linden, NJ)
"... a man who has never been found guilty in a court of law, or even charged with a crime."
Are mob rule, rumored accusations and social media hysteria now enough to ostracize someone? Maybe you or I will be next.
raph101 (sierra madre, california)
We're well beyond "rumored accusations" at this point. Cosby himself admitted in a deposition that he liked to procure Quaaludes for use in seducing unwilling women. Over 40 women have told remarkably similar stories of being drugged and raped. They did not know one another at the time they gave their contemporaneous accounts to their trusted friends. How much evidence do you need, when faced with a man who can afford the cagiest of lawyers, to see the truth before you?
FSMLives! (NYC)
'...Cosby himself admitted in a deposition that he liked to procure Quaaludes for use in seducing unwilling women...'

He procured drugs to take with women who willingly ingested those drugs.

'...Over 40 women have told remarkably similar stories of being drugged and raped...'

That is what should raise alarm bells. That they all told the same stories, but only after the first story was in the media.
Brian E Smith (Sydney Australia)
Have all the women who are now stepping forward been thoroughly interviewed/interrogated and have they given any proof that they did actually come in contact with Mr Cosby, dates/times? Are they all truly victims is it possible that some of these women may be getting on the bandwagon with $$$$$$$$ in mind?
There's no way he can ever get a fair trial IF he is charged because it appears that he's already convicted by the media
fritzrxx (Portland Or)
What is the big deal?

Just cross out the honoree's name on school records. If anyone asks 'Does Mr X have an honorary degree from Old Mossy?' the registrar can say 'No', or 'Not any longer.' Frankly, registrars are unlikely to get many questions like that. As is, they get few enough concerning actual graduates.

What is the point of publicly announcing revocation of an honorary degree? Hardly anyone remembers which school awarded what to whom. But if schools publicly announce revocations, they should also ask for a return of the diploma. Would they do that?

What if the honoree refused to return the diploma or just stalled? Hard to imagine the school taking him to court.

This seems a tempest in a tea pot. Few but the schools, the graduating class, and the honoree remember these awards.
composerudin (Allentown, NJ 08501)
I was taken aback years ago when Cosby was the commencement speaker and given an honorary degree at Philadelphia's UNIVERSITY OF THE ARTS. I assumed it was a rather blatant plea to get some of his wealth and possible influence from a Philadelphian known already to champion Temple University. I sat in rather stupified attention as he joked his way through this highly significant day for many of our students (and their parents). It now seems even more cringe-worthy, and I'd hope that my former employer would take some sort of principled stand where this issue is concerned.
CMR (Cherry Hill, NJ)
Mr. Bill Cosby's complete silence in the face of accusation of his having been a sexual predator speaks volumes. Yes, all of his honorary degrees and awards should be revoked. No ifs and buts.
Working Mama (New York City)
If you have a law degree, it should be revoked. In the U.S., by law there is a presumption of innocence unless proven guilty in court. You also have the Constitutional right to remain silent in the face of accusations of criminality without imputation of guilt from doing so.
CMR (Cherry Hill, NJ)
Luckily, I am not a lawyer. Revoking honorary degree does not require court conviction.
Brian E Smith (Sydney Australia)
and hopefully never summonsed to sit on a jury.
k pichon (florida)
Sure, Colleges.....go ahead and revoke or cancel or rescind or whatever. For one thing that will demonstrate the value of such selective awards and decorations - won't it? In addition, such action will solve the racism problem - won't it?? And the whole situation should remind all of us of the value of such past recognition - won't it? Shuuuuuure it will.......
Rob (Pennsylvania)
Even Kermit the Frog has an honorary degree. A doctorate, no less.
JG (NY)
And Kermit deserves to keep it.
Web (Alaska)
That's Kermit D. Frog, PhD, for services to humanity.
Ben (New Jersey)
Web,
I'm pretty sure it's Kermit T. (short for "The") Frog, PhD. Kermit D. was his cousin.
Julian Parks (Rego Park, New York)
Receiving an honorary degree is meaningless. These are given to so many people that any significance that they had has become like winning a prize in a cracker jack box.
ellienyc (new york city)
Well I know one school that won't have to wrestle with this -- Stanford. When I was living in San Francisco in the early-mid 80s there was an item in the SF Chronicle (maybe Herb Caen's column?) to the effect that the Stanford seniors had voted to have Cosby be their grad speaker. So the university approached Cosby's people, and Cosby's people replied, basically, "no honorary degree, no graduation speech." To which Stanford replied, "sorry but we just don't grant honorary degrees to anyone." To which Cosby's people replied, "well you start giving them or he ain't comin." At that point Stanford said something like "thanks for that" and moved on to another speaker.

It was this reported incident that first made me suspicious of Cosby.
Kristi (NYC)
Well! I thought Cosby liked seeing all those "wet faces" and that it was a spiritual experience for him to do these commencements. I guess not, if wall paper was an actual requirement. Glad Stanford didn't bend to this crazy narcissist.
John Edwards (Dracut, MA)
It'd be nice to know how widespread the practice you alledge is.

Commencement speakers should be offering final words of insight & advice to graduating seniors.
Honorary degrees should be bestowed only on exemplars of the profession whose life's work has provided useful contributions to society.

Dispensing degrees for cash is a form of prostitution
-- worthy of an investigative report.

There are many other ways to express appreciation for generous gifts.
Latin Major (Ridgewood, NJ)
That explains the high total number!

Earning a doctoral degree is such a long, difficult process and such a big deal for those who succeed (and their families) that the very idea of granting "honorary" ones, often for not much more than giving a speech, is frankly bizarre. (Why not an honorary master's degree?) The practice is simply weird and ought to end. Universities could come up with something else to pay their speakers with, such as money.
zDUde (Anton Chico, NM)
These are "honorary degrees" given the weight of evidence, Cosby possesses no honor does anyone actually care that he received an honor that has no merit? It is not as if honorary degree recipients feel obligated by their honorific degree to change their behavior, nor are they subject to a background investigation (a cursory one would be helpful). Mr. Cosby is an outlier to have received so many honorary degrees, hopefully his poor actions are an outlier amongst such recipients.
John Edwards (Dracut, MA)
Bill Cosby did something positive:
He changed the image and meaning of black responsibility.
And gave new emphasis to meaningful education.
He helped alter our priorities and prejudices
That is why he was honored.
That was good for the country.

In the process, he also did something destructive to himself and others.
Our history is filled with ambiguity.
Broken treaties and promises to native Americans.
Presidents who promoted freedom, yet kept slaves.
A President who called for international peace, a league of nations,
yet allowed the massacre of entire black communities.
A President who shared the mistress of a crime boss, and had affairs
with prostitutes yet spoke of high moral principle.

The hypocrisy of religious leaders and institutions.
Pedophilia, money laundering, oppressive regimes
Watergate and Iran Contra
Silverado and Enron,
9/11
-- who's kidding who?
Yes, we pretend to look the other way, as if we are dumb.
But we aren't. We're numb.

We do as we do because we have faith, as Paul said:

"Where sin abounds, Grace does abound more fully."

If we rescinded the achievements of all those who had moral lapses,
what would we have left?

Cosby has been accused but not judged.
Like so many who preceded him.

We don't condone what is bad
but we don't want to destroy the good that accompanied it.

We have peace rather than destruction
because we have the freedom of speech
that allows us to see ourselves as we really are:
Imperfect -- and therefore we can improve.
Kristi (NYC)
It's simpler than that though... In the context of who he really is and was, his work is unfunny at best and at times, unwatchable. Try watching 'Himself' and see if you're remotely able to laugh. Moreover, see if you can get thru it without your skin crawling. He was a comedian and TV star who built an image that was integral to his act. Now that he has revealed himself, his body of entertainment work has lost its value. It's okay for a comedian to be forgotten, too, btw... What is lost by snuffing the "legacy" of a guy who was on TV for a time? Nothing at all. His stuff isn't funny anymore at all and not worth watching. So what? We're not erasing the cure for cancer, we're done with the work of a comedy star who's no longer funny and no longer a star. Meh.
ACJ (Chicago, IL)
If this is a tough decision, I would like to see an easy decision.
barb tennant (seattle)
has he been convicted of a crime? why not?
carol goldstein (new york)
Mostly, statute of limitations.
Lou (Rego Park)
We're not talking about a Nobel Prize or any award of notable substance. An honorary degree is as meaningful as someone from Kentucky being given the title "colonel". It means that someone of supposed note agreed to attend an event that will involve the graduation of students from their institution. Nothing more and nothing less. Bill Cosby should be dealt with in a court of law where a more meaningful decision hopefully will take place.
George (Miami)
Nah, nah, nah, we're gonna have a good time!
Hey, Hey Hey!
efb (Long Island, NY)
Is it really fair to put a picture of Richard M. Nixon in this story? I am no fan of the man but to in any way equate his misdeeds with those of Bill Cosby? Of all the people who have ever received honorary degrees, to select Mugabe and Nixon to put alongside this heinous character seems random and wrong.
Web (Alaska)
Nixon killed hundreds of thousands when he tried bombing Vietnamese into the Stone Age. He and Mugabe were way worse than Cosby's alleged misdeeds.
no name (New England)
I do not think there is much point in rescinding an honorary doctorate - maybe the institution thinks it is good PR - but it is not as it again calls attention to Mr.Cosby. Perhaps the thing to do is for the media to NOT PUBLISH photos of Mr. Cosby in a doctoral gown. Personally I think it is the height - or maybe the depth of vanity to run around calling one's self "Doctor" for being awarded an honorary doctorate.
When I was a child the minister of the local church was awarded an honorary doctorate from his seminary. After that he insisted that he be addressed as "Doctor" many in the church thought he was just being a stuffed shirt - and refused. My mother who did not suffer fools gladly just laughed and continued to address him by his first name. Those of us who earned doctoral degrees generally use the title within our discipline and not outside of it. Some seem to think it is a title that makes them a bit better than the rest of the world and use it in any and all situation no matter how absurd.
John Edwards (Dracut, MA)
I think the Constitution has something to say about titles.
Article 1 section 9 clause 8; also section 10 clause 1.

Now, if the feds can't use titles, and the state can't either,
what allows an individual to use a title.

Job title -- that's different!

As in Sergeant, Captain, Admiral, General, etc.

[Albert Einstein simply addressed FDR with "Sir" (not even "Mr. President")
in the letter that urged the development of the A-bomb.]
David G (New York)
Personal, visceral feelings aside -- and there is zero attempt to minimize any of the violent anguish of sexual victims here -- we are a nation of laws and not the mobs. One of the bedrocks of our constitutional republic is:"Innocent until proven guilty in a court of law."

Everything in this situation is nothing more than alleged, it has yet to be proved. Its a suspicion, its an assumption, it may be real or it may be fantasy -- none of us truly know, only the alleged perp and victims. Mr. Cosby deserves his day in court. So do his victims. So do each one of us, whether perp or victim.

And if we are innocent, do we not deserve the opportunity, fair and unbiased, to prove so?

If any of these colleges revoke what their honorary degrees, based only on the unproven allegations of the matter, then frankly, they lose any moral high ground save that of a lynch mob. If Cosby is found guilty, then yes, pull the degrees. But until then, he is as innocent as anyone involved in the decision to revoke his honorary degrees.
Koyote (The Great Plains)
I recall once reading that Mr. Cosby would only give a commencement address IF he received an honorary degree; so, it seems he used his celebrity status to coerce people into giving him things other than sex, too.
jp (hoboken,nj)
I wonder what an honorary degree would mean to Cosby. It certainly wouldn't mean anything to me if I was offered an honorary anything.
Charlie (NJ)
Schools like Yale can suggest they are rising above these despicable patterns of behavior in recognition of all the positive things Cosby contributed during his career. I'd suggest to all of them that they go back and read what they said about Cosby when they awarded him the honorary degree and then ask themselves if all they said applies. And further, if they had it to do over again knowing what they know, would they award it again. This man was accepting honorary degrees and doling out hugs to graduating women thinking about you guessed it. Show some guts.
Lynn (Greenville, SC)
Having celebrities as commencement speakers is a great way to generate publicity and the best way to get them there is to promise an honorary degree. Just another creative approach to PR and fund raising.

Tax revenues are at an all time low. Increase state funding for higher education or prepare to see more of this.
KJS (Virginia)
Maybe the question should be how many of these schools awarded him an honorary degree after the first allegations came out. The bigger scandal here is that even though a number of women alleged some time ago that Cosby had raped or sexually assaulted them, they were not believed until a male comedian made a joke about it. That is the real tragedy here.
Susan (New York, NY)
These honorary degrees are virtually meaningless. As Lennon & McCartney said "Let it be."
ellienyc (new york city)
I agree. They are practically meaningless to begin with, except to someone like Cosby, to whom they were so important that he refused to give speeches unless he got an honorary degree.
Adob (Boston, MA)
What is the tough question? Whether an institution should "honor" a serial rapist?
The easy way to answer this is for the institution to answer the question of whether they would have given him the honorary degree had they know about his crimes.
Just because the crimes were not prosecuted in a more timely matter does not make them any less a horrific crime.
Ingrid Spangler (Brooklyn NY)
I am an alumna of Temple University and am confused about whether or not they've rescinded his honorary PhD. They've accepted his resignation from the board of trustees, but it's unclear to me if they've taken back his doctorate.
Also I have to say something about this photo of Cosby at BU in 2014. Most people who get them work really, REALLY hard for PhDs, can he at least respect the degree that others work so hard for and SHAVE?!
carol goldstein (new york)
Knew MIT would not be on the list. Doesn't do honorary degrees. Commencement is for those who earn it. Speaking there is its own reward.
ellienyc (new york city)
Same thing with Stanford. When Stanford graduating seniors in the 80s requested Cosby as a graduation speaker, Cosby refused to speak there unless Stanford reversed its policy of not granting honorary degrees. Stanford would not change its policy and found another speaker.
Jacob handelsman (Houston)
For sure, it must be quite nerve-wracking to accomodate their PC honoring of a black with his now established record of drugging women for sexual purposes. Of course,if he were white it would already have happened with nary a thought.
Victor (Chicago)
Yale must have been desperate if they conferred an honorary degree on Cosby. It's one thing for DaPauw or Temple to draw attention to their institutions but Yale??
Cool papa bell (Colorado)
Please add Harvey Mudd College (1984) to your list of honorary degrees.
Paul (California)
Agonizing about these frivolous and meaningless degrees is just a vanity issue, seemingly magnifying the importance of the institution.
And do we really want to examine the moral character and business dealings of those for whom these universities are named? Stanford, Duke, Brown, etc?
Baldwin0476 (College Station TX)
I absolutely disagree with the stripping of honors in cases where a person is later found to have committed crimes. As with Pete Rose and OJ Simpson before him, Dr Cosby's honors have to do with his contribution to society and academics. They are not, and should never be construed as, a moral badge of approval. We have to stop equating achievement with morality. We can be disappointed in the person for the crimes, but the contributions that led to awards and tokens of appreciation should remain in the person's possession.
John LeBaron (MA)
Bill Cosby did not "fall" from grace. By his own serial acts, he jumped off the cliff of grace. He took a shovel with him. When he landed, he kept digging a deeper hole. And in that dark, dank hole he now resides, having fully earned his fate where he can enjoy admiring all those meaningless honorary degrees.

www.endthemadnessnow.org
Rohit (New York)
I am a little bothered by these punishments without trials. Cosby has not been tried.

Recently Rihanna got into a lot of trouble simply for praising Rachel Donezal. Regardless of what I think of Rachel, Rihanna has perfect right to praise her if she admires her and those who object can stuff it. Unfortunately they have the power to harm Rihanna, make her eat crow, whatever.

Do we want to become a lynch mob which punishes people without trial? To be sure, the punishments do not amount to hanging from a tree as the song Strange Fruit illustrated. But such unfair procedures CAN destroy lives. And Cosby is right about his main message that the black community can do better by hitting the books and going on fewer marches.

We need to learn to watch it and not let people be victimized without any sort of fair procedure.
Admiral Halsey (USA)
Poor Rihanna. Poor, poor Rihanna. How awful it must be for her. Was there some need for her to comment on Rachel Donezal at all? Or was it just: "Hey, I'm Rihanna! When I say something people listen!" And then the poor thing gets pushback! Just what did she - and you - expect? Maybe Rihanna should just stuff it, eh?
CFXK (<br/>)
Can't help but notice that three of the four universities rescinding the honorary degree - Fordham, Marquette, and the University of San Francisco - are Jesuit universities. Just an observation.
Kathy (<br/>)
Mr. Cosby should be a man, step up and tell his side of the story of why at least 54 women are accusing him of various inappropriate sexual allegations.

I imagine being one of these young women drugged by Mr. Cosby must have had a hard time trying to get anyone to believe that "Dr. Huxtable" would have done that....

Mr. Cosby return these honorary degrees on your own accord!
Jim (Long Island, NY)
I'm guesing these esteemed centers of higher education don't worry too much about due process. Although there have been accusations, I don't believe there has been an actural conviction. Whatever happened to the the principle of innocent until proven guilty?
Hotblack Desiato (Magrathea)
Everyone knows that honorary degrees are meaningless. Nobody cares about who has an honorary degree. I get the feeling that the "grappling" being done by these universities is probably pretty low-level if it exists at most of these schools at all. But doesn't an article like this sure get people arguing? Yup. Keep the conversation going! Blech.
Ed (Honolulu)
The awarding of honorary degrees is the most boring and useless of exercises that usually produces nothing but polite clapping and a yawn from the spectators. The awardee's comments are equally so. Whether or not to revoke it in Cosby's case is equally pointless and irrelevant and only shows how removed academia is from the real problems of our day.
MKM (New York)
Suck it up. When he was good for fund raising they gave him the degree. He hasn't been convicted of anything.
Martin (New York)
And, why, exactly, do these schools give out degrees and awards for being an entertainer or celebrity, for fundraising ability, instead of for actual academic or social accomplishment? Aren't they rewarding an image, in a world where we know that images are usually false?
Todd R. Lockwood (Burlington, VT)
How easy it is to apply retroactive justice. Mr. Cosby received many of his honorary degrees in recognition of the profound effect his television series had on the American public, offering African-American role models that challenged prior stereotypes. The show's influence on blacks and whites alike cannot be overestimated. In spite of his dubious associations with women, his positive impact on American society can't be denied. While recent revelations may have diminished the likelihood of future degrees, Mr. Cosby's accomplishments still stand.
Karen R. Long (Cleveland, Ohio)
So drugging and raping dozens of girls and women is having "dubious associations with women"? George Orwell himself would snap his head up at such a re-characterization. It seems truly peculiar to argue that "accomplishments still stand" when the man honored has helped himself for decades to the bodies of women he rendered unconscious. I wonder if Mr. Lockwood would be so magnanimous if his body had been used that way.
joan (sarasota, florida)
"Mr. Cosby, whose publicist once estimated that the entertainer had collected more than 100 honorary degrees. The New York Times, in a quick search, found nearly 60"

Revoking his honorary degrees is fine with me if the colleges' and universities' Presidents, board members and/or selection committee members, all who suggested and approved his honorary degrees are named and apologize. Might this lead to a examination of the process and tradition of selling honorary degrees?
Springtime (Boston)
It's a silly honorary degree. It doesn't mean anything except as a symbolic gesture of goodwill, granted at a certain moment in time. Cosby is a hero to many for his comedy, if not his personal life. The colleges should just let the degrees stand and not be forced to re-evaluate everything based on new evidence. Lighten up people and let the courts decide on criminal activity.
I know that it hurt my feelings when the media derailed Thomas Jefferson as a simple minded racist, I would imagine that bashing Cosby does the same for black people. We should respect each others loyalty to heroes (as flawed as they may be).
rockyboy (Seattle)
This "dilemma" and its relative snooze quality point out the fallaciousness of honorary degrees to begin with. Well, strike that - perhaps there was true merit to them at one time, but they have become an acknowledgement of celebrity, which is a redundancy.
Larry (CT)
Speakers at commencements are nearly always paid to do so. Moreover, some as part of their compensation package for speaking require accommodations for staff and family during their visit and (yes) honorary degrees. I recall about eight or nine years ago my school was considering Rudy Giuliani speaking. The cost was $100,000 and an honorary degree.
partlycloudy (methingham county)
Didn't Spelman, a traditionally black women's college, drop the Cosby scholarship? It's ironic that Nixon and Cosby and other people who were and are so bad were honored by colleges and universities. Rape is rape. Cosby needs to be in jail and all of his honors stripped from him.
Admiral Halsey (USA)
I don't think Cosby needs to be in jail. In fact, my guess is if you ask him it would be one of the last things he would say he needs. Now, maybe he should be in jail but we do have laws and trials and he hasn't been convicted of anything yet so maybe we can wait a bit on his incarceration.
Picasso (MidAtlantic)
The "honorable" thing to do is to ask him to return the degree and then return his money he probable gave each university. While Mr. Cosby is no saint--he has donated a lot of his cash and time to worthy causes and institutions. These universities brought him in based on his acting/entertaining career and not his private life. People in glass houses should not throw stones---especially when a lot of these houses (Universities) have rampant Title IX violations, gender and race discrimination.
Noo Yawka (New York, NY)
In America, all citizens are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
Any and all attempts to besmirch the reputation of Mr. Cosby absent that standard is nothing less than continued contemptable acts by whites to repress people of color.
Shame!
TMK (New York, NY)
"Some schools say they do not want to condemn in the court of public opinion"

Excuse me, but isn't that how they granted the degrees in the first place?
Josh (Australia)
Surely the persistent allegations are at least grounds for the universities to heavily reconsider being associated with such a figure. It's certainly not a legal matter, honorary degrees are a mark of honor, and basically an advertisement for the university. Cosby's brand is tarnished, so you would imagine universities associated with him would want to distance themselves from him ASAP.
Satire &amp; Sarcasm (Maryland)
"Some are sticking with longstanding policies that prohibit the revocation of such awards."

The rape allegations have dogged Cosby for years, but they have been forced into the spotlight over the past two or three years. So why did BU give him a degree in 2014? Any school which conferred a diploma on Cosby since 2012 needs to have its head examined.
Steve Fankuchen (Oakland, CA)
I have always thought honorary degrees are largely silly things, usually a form of payment to people with names to get them to function as the college equivalent of the Superbowl halftime show. Most -- though not all -- of the time they simply function to cheapen the meaning of the real degrees the graduating students have worked hard to acquire.

Perhaps, when Henry Kissinger and Dick Cheney, et al have honorary degrees rescinded, I might take seriously the efforts to remove honorary degrees from Cosby.
WinManCan (Vancouver Island, BC Canada)
Has he been tried and convicted for anything?
Wallace (NY)
To those wondering why universities, even prestigious ones, confer honorary degrees to celebrities, the reason is simple: it costs nothing to get the celebrity on campus to speak for 45 minutes (other than the cost of printing out one more diploma, airfare, and maybe one night at a hotel), when usually the celebrity charges tens of thousands of dollars of speaking or appearance fees, or if they're a movie star, the cost of a appearing in a commercial.
P. Bradley (Sonoma, CA)
Bill Cosby made a second career out of making commencement speeches across the country, but no where was he more a regular commencement speaker than at Temple University. For my twenty years at Temple, the end of the year always brought the embarrassing and unwelcome appearance of Cosby on the commencement stage, grandly arrayed in his academic regalia, shouting "Whazsup!" to the assembled students, followed by homilies on getting coffee for the boss. Apparently wihout preparation, these were not speeches or addresses of any kind, much less the words of hope, ideals and future that graduates deserved.
DLP (Brooklyn, New York)
Right. I never found him or his show funny, but thought he revealed himself as the smug, patronizing, supercilious, creep it turns out he actually is.
Cleo (New Jersey)
There has always been an overwhelming element of politics in giving out honorary degrees. Teddy Kennedy and Bill Clinton have such degrees, and their conduct to women have been poor. They have received such degrees even when the facts are known. At least no one died with Cosby. Let him keep the degrees.
Mary (California)
i heard Bill Cosby speak at my alma mater in 1997. It was the worst commencement speech ever. His whole thesis was that we need to learn how to work hard like the immigrant in order to be successful. He then cited examples of stereotypical immigrants who worked hard in the service roles.- like the Asian man who sells his newspaper to him in the morning. He equated being an immigrant to low income jobs and how we should aspire to be like "them". It felt condescending. At least a quarter of the audience were immigrants or children of immigrants. I was offended and felt Northwestern wasted thousands of dollars on such a poor choice. From then on any mention of Bill Cosby makes me cringe. The following year at my graduation we had Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
daughter (Paris)
Are you suggesting we also revoke the honorary degrees of those whose commencement speeches were less than brilliant?
BK (New York)
These honorary degrees are almost always tied to fund raising, which seems to be the primary goal of most college administrations, placing well ahead of imposing a bizarre form of "due process free" student discipline for violating current politically correct rules and even further ahead of that last goal of providing a useful education. Since their motivation is so clearly tied to dollars and cents they should only be withdrawn if doing so provides further dollars and cents or reduces the potential to lose current funds or prevents gathering additional funds. Let's stop making believe they mean anything else. In Cosby's case, the analysis should be on the same basis that 57 of these ridiculous things were originally awarded--economic reasons.
michael Currier (ct)
I disagree that these degrees are mostly about fundraising, or even particularly about public relations or placating the crowd at graduation. University's ability to focus on those doing public good, on people of excellence is much the same power and influence the MacArthur prizes or Pulitzers or Nobel prizes recognize public good. It is not all about bandwagon jumping and fundraising. Graduations are astonishing rites of passage and moments of recognition of individual accomplishments: these degrees are in accordance with such occasions.
Grossness54 (West Palm Beach, FL)
In all fairness to the schools, they had no way of knowing what Mr Cosby was really up to when they gave him those honorary degrees. My real problem with the whole practice is how it's been recently slanted and frankly perverted, to the point where a truly courageous woman such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali gets her honorary degree retracted by Brandeis University - Brandeis, of all places, given its original auspices and aims - rescinded for daring to seriously offend the most murderous elements of militant Islamism (Including those responsible for the cold-blooded broad-daylight murder of her colleague, filmmaker Theo van Gogh). After that great gesture of shameful cowardice, these awards have been reduced to just more examples of sickening political correctness, totally unworthy of any respect or credibility.
limarchar (Wayne, PA)
There is a difference between deciding not to give someone an honorary degree (as bad as that is, and certainly I agree it is terrible they did that), and retracting a degree already given.
Footprint (NYC)
I hope I am not judged by the worst thing I've ever done.
Madeline Conant (Midwest)
You probably will be, if you keep doing that "worst thing" over and over and over.
Daniel (Philadelphia)
I believe you should say "things" as in more than 50 "things".
John (Georgia)
You will be, but by a higher power than a university Board of Regents.
V (Los Angeles)
How is this possibly a tough question?

These universities "gave" someone an honorary degree, who turned out to not only be dishonorable, according to his depositions, but possibly criminal in his behavior.

They chose to give it, so they can choose to rescind it.

Oh and by the way Yale, you've never rescinded an honorary degree without elaboration, well here you have over 30 reasons to elaborate upon.

Again, how is this possibly a tough question?
Michael (Upstate NY)
I felt the same way. Something else - honorary or otherwise, these degrees are supposedly awarded for good work done. When you find out the degree was awarded for work that wasn't done, you rescind it.

Some degrees have been rescinded due to plagiarism; this one should be rescinded because Cosby is not the example they thought he was.

How much pride can you take in saying, "I got an honorary degree - from the same college that Cosby got his!"
Steve Fankuchen (Oakland, CA)
I have always thought honorary degrees are largely silly things, usually a form of payment to people with names to get them to function as the college equivalent of the Superbowl halftime show. Most -- though not all -- of the time they simply function to cheapen the meaning of the real degrees the graduating students have worked hard to acquire.

Perhaps, when Henry Kissinger and Dick Cheney, et al have honorary degrees rescinded, I might take seriously the efforts to remove honorary degrees from Cosby.
Adam Johnson (Seattle)
As detestable as Cosby's alleged actions are, by what moral and legal right does a university "revoke" any academic degree? As far as I know, even Ted Kaczynski, a.k.a. The Unabomber, still holds a college degree from Harvard and a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.
S.L. (Briarcliff Manor, NY)
Did Ted earn them with actual academic work? If yes, then they are his to keep. Honorary degrees are given without academic work to get a famous person to come to a graduation or in payment for gifts to the university. Some colleges pay the honoree money to give his pearls of wisdom after he accepts his fake degree. So Cosby did no academic work at the colleges that granted these honorary degrees, so they can rescind them just as easily.
There is strong doubt that he actually earned his doctorate in education. His dissertation was based on his TV show, Fat Albert, and he received credit for his "life experience." I'd say even his academic degree is a fraud also.
a counselor (san francisco)
It's not an academic degree, it's honorary. He didn't do anything other than show up to get the "degree."
Adam Johnson (Seattle)
He earned the degrees with work which the institutions chose to accept in lieu of traditional academic work, when they granted him the degrees.

One can take exception to that practice; many institutions don't do it.

But that's a different discussion.
bruce (ny)
While Mr. Cosby's alleged behavior, if true, is intolerable, given the prevalence of sexual assault on many college campuses, the universities in question may not want to throw those stones too hard.
mabraun (NYC)
What if Mr Cosby had committed these crimes before, say in the 1950's, and had even been arrested and gone to jail? What would be the feeling of women and various others about his degrees then? No doubt, most schools would never have given a foremer "criminal" or "felon" a degree but that bit ofhypocrisy ought not to be counted. Unless Mr Cosby was granted some plastic-wrap degree specifically for holding the hands of intoxicated women without ever taking liberties, it seems that he was granted degrees for being gentlemanly with drunk women.
Also, in the 60's and 70's, taking and using drugs for sexual purposes was so common it was joked about in the New Yorker and it's cartoons.
If being a monk and never having had a an argument with others or never having been arrested were a part of the phony degree grants then , fine, take them back but I doubt any degrees he received had anything to do with his personal life.
Leave it alone or admit that Ed Snowden is a saint and ought also to be knighted.
You can't have your cake and eat it too...
Jim Roberts (Baltimore)
Didn't RPI give an honorary degree in lock topology to Willy Sutton?
Ragz (Austin, TX)
You know hes not been Convicted per law. Yes Yes he might be guilty but is innocent until proven otherwise.
J (C)
He admitted -on record- to doing it. Just because the statute of limitations has expired doesn't mean we should still honor him. I mean, just because the civil war was 150 years ago doesn't mean we still celebrate racist traitors such as Jefferson Davis, right? Oh wait...
Jim Roberts (Baltimore)
Not innocent, not even "not guilty", legally. Just a sinner.
mary (nyc)
Oh Baloney!
Godfrey (Nairobi, Kenya)
MIT and University of Virginia are the only 2 universities that will only award a degree based purely on academic achievement (nothing honorary). I guess they will never have such "worries".
Claudia (<br/>)
Possibly University of Chicago, as well. For a very long time, and possibly still the case, only faculty members delivered commencement addresses.
Gui (St Joseph County, IN)
Anyone think that Cosby will receive any additional honors? Publicity would certainly be there for the institution...just as it was in the past with honors bestowed.
Joshua Folds (New York City)
Perhaps, Cosby should be wearing a scarlet letter 'R' instead of 'A'. Has Cosby actually been found guilty of a crime? Last I checked, "We the People" are innocent until proven guilty. Guilty does not mean merely publicly accused, unless, the Salem witch trials are back in session. Either way, for liberal universities, Cosby poses the ultimate conundrum. Assuage the feminists who decry Cosby as a "rapist" or expunge the ultimate "benevolent African American father figure" from the university walls. Either way, there seem to be no winners in the horrid tale of Bill Cosby. If Santa Claus is determined to be a pedophile, please spare me the sordid details. I prefer to remember my mythological characters in the same way I remember the "honorable" Dr. Huxtable as the television character he was written to be. We never really knew Bill Cosby in the first place. When will American cease to fetishize our celebrities?
mary (nyc)
Maybe when they stop getting away with rape?
limarchar (Wayne, PA)
There isn't any conundrum. I have connections to three universities that gave him honorary degrees, one of which I visited last month on my daughter's college tour. He came up, he was not defended. Nobody will defend him because there is no other side. Not at HBCUs, not anywhere (you do know many of the women he raped were black, don't you?) It is not a matter of assuaging feminists, it is a matter of basic moral decency.

And is there any other crime, any other, where literally dozens of victims come forward and you would not believe them?
Joshua Folds (New York City)
I don't know whether Cosby is guilty or innocent of the crimes he is accused of. Neither do I pretend to know. It has been said, "Where there's smoke there's fire... " There is a possibility of innocence or guilt. Do we really know for sure?
RM (Vermont)
Does it really matter? He has already been shamed in the court of public opinion, and everyone at all familiar with the situation is aware that, when these degrees were awarded, they were based on his reputation as it then existed.

I think the case would be clearer if he had been convicted of crimes that had occurred or were occurring at the time the degree was awarded.

Can you imagine the situation with Yeshiva University and Bernard Madoff? They awarded Bernie an honorary degree in 2001, while he was swindling them. Now that's a degree that should be revoked, if it hasn't been already.
Bill (Phoenix)
His reputation was the same then as it is now. His peers then just didn't who he really was.
kgeographer (bay area, california)
revoke a degree? how about arresting him? how many witnesses are required for an indictment?
Working Mama (New York City)
The problem is that none of the accusers brought charges within the statute of limitations or otherwise took steps to allow for the preservation and collection of evidence. This effectively prevents any trial with due process for the accused. The number of accusers is irrelevant to the question--there were umpteen accusers in the Salem Witch Trials, but that didn't make the accusations true. The fact that so many first brought accusations after the first allegations went viral on the internet increases skepticism.
Matt (Japan)
I think there are four arguments to leave his degrees alone:
1. Honorary degrees are a form of compensation. Cosby was compensated for showing up, wearing a sweatshirt, and giving a speech, and paid with an honorary degree. They may regret it now, but he earned it then.
2. Universities do not rescind standard degrees for moral or legal failings, why should honorary degrees be any different? The Unabomber is still a graduate from Harvard who writes notes in his alumni newsletter.
3. There might be a case to rescind if Cosby stood to benefit from, say, his Fashion Institute of Technology honorary degree. I do not believe this to be likely.
4. Rescinding a degree is a cheap publicity stunt—what universities ought to be doing is fixing their own damaged programs where sexual abuse is rampant, enabled, and within the power of the university to change (Florida State, anyone?).
treabeton (new hartford, ny)
Rescinding a degree for criminal acts is the right thing to do. Sends a powerful message: Here are the values of this university.
Paul (Huntington, W.Va.)
I understand the impulse to cancel past recognition of a personality who's no longer considered a good example to others. I also appreciate the argument that Cosby's never been charged or convicted of a crime in connection with the allegations. Of course, that's not necessary in order to justify taking this kind of action, but it certainly does serve as a reminder that they're still basically accusations, and it's hard to be sure of any particular occurrence absent a real trial in which the accuser is required to prove something and the accused has a chance to refute it.

But there's another troubling issue. Revoking past recognition is a bit like rewriting history to suit current opinion. If a college revokes someone's degree, does that mean that the person never received it? Even if it was bestowed in a ceremony, certified by the authorized officials, and recorded for twenty, thirty years as having happened?

Cosby won four Emmy Awards and nine Grammys. Should those also be revoked? If so, who won those awards years ago? The runners-up, or nobody? Was everyone mistaken about the winner for all these years? This reminds me of when 112 Penn State football victories over 13 years were vacated, and later restored. It was a symbolic fiction that did nothing to help anyone.

Revoking Bill Cosby's honorary degrees seems to be less about setting a good example than it is about colleges taking advantage of the situation to look like virtuous and responsible citizens.
mary (nyc)
Interesting how most views that the awards should remain are written by men.
Paul (Huntington, W.Va.)
Is that an "ad hominem" argument?

By your line of reasoning, a person's point of view ought to depend on their gender. That doesn't give much credit to either men or women participating in this debate. It also doesn't go toward any of the points I made.

My main point was that the colleges aren't doing this to support women or women's issues. They're jumping on the bandwagon because it's fashionable to do so; joining the stoning party so to speak.

Do you read my comments as a "defense" of Bill Cosby? No, it's an argument against rewriting history, and pretending that events didn't happen, simply because institutions feel pressured to take a symbolic action to disavow other symbolic actions from decades earlier. Institutions weren't at fault for granting awards or degrees in the past, and are blameless for doing so. Of course, if you regard the degrees as meaningless, then revoking them is equally meaningless.

If Bill Cosby's actions hurt us all, and cast a shadow over his entire career, how are those of us who grew up with him supposed to remember our own childhoods? If this scandal had never emerged, we'd say that he gave millions of people countless hours of joy and inspiration. Are those now revoked too? Did we merely imagine being taught and entertained for all those years?

For most of us, this is a complex issue, to which there are no easy answers. But we shouldn't rewrite history to suit present fashion. That's the point I was trying to make.
fast&amp;furious (the new world)
Some commenters point out that Cosby is 'innocent.'

In most of the cases so far where women have come forward publicly, the statute of limitations does not permit him to be prosecuted. That's not the same thing as 'he's innocent, and all these women are just making this up.' I think a number of them would like to see him prosecuted now if given the opportunity. Many discussed the assaults with bosses, agents and friends at the time they occurred and were told "drop it. no one will believe you. It's Bill Cosby."

Times have changed because I believe them all.
LarryAt27N (South Florida)
To those readers curious to know how much an honorary doctorate degree is worth, I have an exact answer.

$89. And if you also want to be an Honorary Professor in your choice of discipline, add $60 more.

That's how much they are worth to the Los Angeles Development Church and Institute, which accepts major credit cards and PayPal. Express University charges quite a bit more, but at least you get to include the word "university" on your resume.

Best of all, you don't have to make no stinking speech in the hot June sun to get one of these degrees.
Kafen ebell (Los angeles)
I am convinced bill cosby is tainted...but almost more shocking is that mugabe has retained his. Though they are ultimately meaningless, its a statement of support, however subtle.
Brech (Croton, NY)
Did Yeshiva take back the honorary degree it bestowed on Bernie Madoff?

For every school to go back and try to figure out which of its honorary degree recipients later was deemed, in court or by the public, to be a bad actor would be a task they don't need to waste their time with.
Charles Edwards (Arlington, VA)
I see a lot of posts that say Cosby is "innocent until proven guilty." This is a special legal standard that places an extra burden on the judiciary system when a defendant is accused of a crime and is at risk of losing his liberty. Society in general is not compelled to adopt such blinders. By his own testimony, this guy is a sexual predator. Yank the degrees.
Ranjith Desilva (Cincinnati, OH)
Giving "honorary" degrees, not mention they are doctoral, is a very bad idea to begin with. They truly undermines the "earned" degrees. A degree means something -- you have mastered the discipline you earned a degree in -- and as millions of students know, you won't get one even if you are shy of a single credit even when you have labored for four (or four plus) years. And we don't take them back just because the recipient happened to fall in to the wrong side of the law or disgrace themeless.

Honorary is a different story. Easy to give and when the so-called "honor" is violated they should be easy TAKE THEM BACK.

Cosby is "given" 60+ of them. Not earned. Take them.
Matt Von Ahmad Silverstein Chong (Mill Valley, CA)
This is simple. Earned degrees you can keep. Honorary degrees should be revoked if the recipient is dishonored.
mabraun (NYC)
But then it means someone has to spend time and life just sniffing around people's private lives over whether they are considered "prop[er" by all Americans. Mr Cosby is not being rear ended for sleeping with women-he is being crushed for allegedly having done so with women who sought him out, alone, voluntarily took his pills or drank his "booze", and became furious that he then never gave them the jobs or promotion they wanted.
Jana Hesser (Providence, RI)
Revoking degrees is a great idea but is should be administrated equally to all law breakers or ethical violators.

Some like a former Secretary of the Smithsonian has honorary degrees from at least 3 universities. He is by far not the worst offender just one I happened to notice who had received honorary degrees but was in the the news over controversies.

What should we do when as I read:

"The Smithsonian's Secretary, the banker who took over the world's largest museum complex seven years ago, has resigned under pressure following revelations regarding his housing allowance and office and travel expenditures."

Furthermore this is the same guy that the press had reported earlier:
"The Smithsonian Secretary is bent on curtailing research in favor of building projects and more crowd-pleasing attractions." Cutting research?? This is the very essence and purpose of universities. Is it OK to honor someone who does not get the importance of research? These actions may not be illegal but are they worthy of honorary degrees?

I think honorary degrees should be given like college admissions that require completing the year with good grades. Honorary degrees should be contingent to completing one's life honorably.
mabraun (NYC)
Des this mean that some kid who gets addicted to crack or dope and robs a bank, or is arrested for drunk driving should lose his academic credentials? Then why not any woman who loses her virtue with a married man or is found to have had relations outside of marriage--oh. That's right. We did used to do that, didn't we?
Never mind.
Ron from Georgia (Augusta, GA)
I am a graduate of Central High School in Philadelphia, PA. Mr. Cosby is in the alumni Hall of Fame. There is a continuing dialog within the alumni community about rescinding his honor. Personally I believe he should be removed for the simple reason that even though he has worn sweat shirts from that school, he was not a graduate.
Linda (New York)
Honorary degree is an oxymoron. Honorary degrees cheapen higher education and cast a shadow on many graduations. Grads deserve to have their moment in a well earned cap & gown without having to see people honored whom they may not admire or may even find repugnant-- at that time or down the road as in the Cosby case.

Honorary degrees are a way for university administrators to honor themselves -- by identifying themselves with high achievers, celebs and donors. Cosby's collection of degrees should be an eye-opener.
Dr. Bob Hogner (Miami, Florida (Not Ohio))
Why only Bill Cosby? Why not those real graduates of Yale, Harvard, and so on "down" the line, where a graduate has committed a tax, banking, real estate, corporate, insider trading, usw, felony. They get to keep their degrees?
mary (nyc)
Um, because he raped over 20 women
limarchar (Wayne, PA)
Maybe they should be revoked, too, but surely you would agree that drugging and raping dozens of women is far worse than any of the crimes you mention.
Robert Roth (NYC)
As well as war crimes.
marblepea (Marietta GA)
Like some others have posted, I knew my school wouldn't be on the list as they do not grant honorary degrees. Sure it costs getting some big name speakers, but in the big scheme of things, I like the fact that the only way to get a degree is to actually earn it.
Fr. Bill (Maui)
This article raises the question of the purpose and value of honorary degrees: Is it "showbiz" to pack the house at commencement? Is it meant to honor generous donors? Is it meant to get the University"s name in the papers? Is it meant to honor deep scholarship or significant achievement in a given field? In short, how seriously should we take them? The answer depends on the institution granting them.

Yale has stated that it has never revoked an honorary degree. As a Yale graduate, I believe they perhaps they have good reason not to start now. As an alumnus, I protested the decision of the Yale Corporation to award an honorary degree to George W. Bush (Yale '68) My reason? He was inaugurated in January, 2001 and the honorary degree was announced in May, 2001 - four months later! What was the degree meant to honor - getting elected? What is the old saying - "Marry in haste, repent at leisure?" I hope Yale at least has learned an important lesson.
Yoda (DC)
What was the degree meant to honor - getting elected?

absolutely! IT was his first and only major accomplishment in office. If only it ended there. If that was not a reason to give him an honorary degree I don't know what would be.
Kim (NYC)
Alas, I would have to disagree. I, and I'm going to say millions of Americans, do not believe George W Bush won the 2000 election, but was instead selected by the Supreme Court. So, as far as I'm concerned, the record remains unclear as to his "accomplishments in office."
James B. Huntington (Eldred, New York)
He has been convicted of NOTHING! And what precedent does this cowardly stuff set?
Susan (Piedmont, CA)
My school, Stanford, does not award honorary degrees, and this is just one reason why out of many. If you hold a degree from Stanford you earned it. Not nearly so many questions afterwards.
The Other Sophie (NYC)
To Susan: I didn't know that about Stanford, and I went there! (Full disclosure - I skipped the graduation ceremony, which was kind of a thing back then, so I didn't notice the absence of honorees).
Sierra (MI)
So we are now slipping into the absurd. Are colleges going to start revoking degrees, honorary or otherwise, of others accused of crimes? Just how many honorary degrees have been "taken back" from accused criminals and/or convicted criminals?

Honorary degrees hold little if any meaning to the university or the recipient save for the few who actually earned them, like a young woman who was terminally ill and could not finish her degree program. She was awarded an honorary degree months before she passed away.

Let Mr. Cosby keep his worthless pieces of paper and may universities stop giving away "honorary" degrees to any Tom, Bill, or Helen that agrees to speak at commencement. If universities do revoke the degree, then I expect to see them revoke degrees from all who are accused, but not convicted of a crime.
Dr. Bob Solomon (Edmonton, Canada)
Coz attended my high school, Central High, in Philly, for a term of no work, then left.
He attended Temple O. when I was in grad school and he entertained crowds for free to tighten up his club act.
Then he rose and, rising, fell.
Next year at my class's 60th reunion next, my commemorative video pauses after the encomia to a fantastic 4 year academic school, its staff, many with PhD. s, and my class with one U.S. Senator, 4 judges, 2 psychiatrists, scores of doctors, dozens of scientists and engineers, and segues to Coz's grad address to a recent class. The transition is Orson Welles in his best radio voice as "The Shadow", asking "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows". In the 12 sec excerpt from the address, Coz turns amid thunderous applause ... and trips over the mike cord.
Yes, he earned 2 honorary degrees from universities I attended. Yes, he rose from the "projects" near my home, across a "red line" where blacks were never sold homes, rose to be a great entertainer. But what lurked? What heart? What a fall. "The weed of crime bears bitter fruit. Crime does not pay": the second intro from every episode of "The Shadow" - and many lives of famous men. Even funny men.
Henry Spencer (USA)
Quote from article: "Jeremy Travis, the president of John Jay, said, “What makes the case compelling is the very serious pattern of misconduct that’s been revealed both in journalistic accounts and by a large number of women who have now bravely come forward and has been validated by Mr. Cosby’s own testimony in deposition about his pattern of conduct.” Whether he's a rapist or not, if Cosby sues over this quote, he wins hands down. The media is playing to people too dim to grasp that there's something wrong with his quote. In other words, the moronic masses. The really, really, hopelessly stupid majority.
limarchar (Wayne, PA)
On what grounds would he sue? You do understand the truth is an absolute defense, so if he were a rapist, there would be no slander? Furthermore, he would then bear the burden of proof, so he would have to prove he was not a rapist to prevail? You do understand that there is more leeway when it comes to public figures, and repeating what is already been reported in the press is not slander on the part of the repeater?
Erik (AZ)
The worst part of the person of Bill Cosby is that he is impostor. He has been playing on people's emotions and carrying on his twisted game in the background were no one had the guts to take notice and confront it. He used power in a corrupt way. There was some mention in the article that he got his honorary degrees at the time that he was a 'good person'. He was and is the same person, always was. It's like Lance Armstrong. He was the same cheating athlete before it was discovered that he was cheating. You cant compartmentalize these kinds of violations of others trust and well-being and just say "well he's still basically a good guy"
Admiral Halsey (USA)
No, the worst part is that he allegedly abused women. People really need to grow up and understand that this isn't about them.
TheBigAl (Minnesota)
Wow. Have all those places given him a degree? Bad on them. Withhold donations from them. As for rescinding the degrees? Give America a break. You broke it, now it's yours. Live with it, dumb second-rate institutions of higher learning. It teaches us all we need to know about the hypocrisy of universities that are top-heavy with administrators and light on faculty and morality. Fire the corrupt administrators and let the alleged rapist keep his ill-gained degrees.
PB (<br/>)
I find these university conundrums and readers' comments amusing and totally, utterly hypocritical. Many universities, especially Yale, were founded and endowed by those who made their fortunes off of human misery - the slave trade. Alleged violence against women is abhorrent but if one abhorrent behavior is being vilified, shouldn't all? How many buildings, chapels and halls will be renamed in the cause of comeuppance and "making it right"?
Catharsis (Paradise Lost)
I guess a degree isn't worth much if it's handed out to those who don't deserve them. What does that say about those students graduating, often with debt?
SS (New York City)
Absolutely nothing, as the two issues have no relationship to one another.
David Zee (White Rock, BC)
I am very disappointed at Yale. This is the same as validating someone who disrespects women.
Pia (Las Cruces, NM)
it's with Yale...and so am I
gm (boston)
I guess Bill Cosby learnt the hard way that universities are fair weather friends. Honorary degrees belong to that part of academia called the "ego-massaging business" ("advancement" is the euphemism of choice). The unpretentious are pretty good at seeing them for what they are -- cheap gestures of free publicity. Here, for example, is Richard Feynman on the honorary degree he was offered by the University of Chicago (after he received his Nobel Prize).

" Dear George (Beadle),

Yours is the first honorary degree that I have been offered, and I thank you for considering me for such an honor.

However, I remember the work I did to get a real degree at Princeton and the guys on the same platform receiving honorary degrees without work—and felt an “honorary degree” was a debasement of the idea of a “degree which confirms certain work has been accomplished.” It is like giving an “honorary electricians license.” I swore then that if by chance I was ever offered one I would not accept it.

Now at last (twenty-five years later) you have given me a chance to carry out my vow.

So thank you, but I do not wish to accept the honorary degree you offered.

Sincerely yours,

Richard P. Feynman"
Koyote (The Great Plains)
Thank you, gm.

As a professor with an earned doctorate, working at a school that routinely awards honorary doctorates to people who've done little beyond donating their money (or having money to potentially donate in the future), I fully agree with you and Feynman.
James Clifton (Houston)
Revoking an honorary degree would be as meaningless as giving one in the first place.
Bernard Weston (Trinidad&amp; Tobago)
How did all these women come into contact with Mr. Cosby? Was it his initiative?
And if he were poor and unknown...would they have given him the time of day?
A few of them even made contact more than once. They saw him as an enhancer for their careers. Their intent was to use him. No one spoke of offering to pay him. A man they now claim they would not associate with. I would not want a degree of any sort from universities which display such shallow thinking. Although I note that my alma mater University College London (UCL) is guilty of similar conduct. But then research funding is a much needed commodity to improve and maintain ranking and image.
Melissa Mandos (Media, PA)
Wesleyan alum here and I agree we should revoke. For years Cosby used his celebrity and money to collect honorary degrees like some people collect coins. He does not deserve the respect these degrees convey. He positioned himself as expert educator, wise parent and family-friendly entertainer, in part through the endorsement of these degrees, and he has proven to be anything but.
Wallace (DC)
so much for innocent until proven guilty?
third.coast (earth)
[[Wallace DC 24 minutes ago
so much for innocent until proven guilty?]]]

He's not entitled to these degrees. They are basically mutual endorsements. If Cosby were an athlete with dozens of claims against him of sexual assault, he would lose his sneaker contracts and his soft drink commercials.

Think: Tiger Woods.

Didn't commit a crime, lost hundreds of millions of dollars.

They both were paid for their image.

One turned out to be a whoremonger. The other appears to be a serial rapist.

That's rather distant from the image of "America's Dad."

But put a pin in your little defense of The Cos…it's going to seem quaint in a few months when he pays millions of dollars to make all of this go away.
Charles Edwards (Arlington, VA)
This not a court of law. The justice system weights the scales in favor of the defendant because personal freedom is at stake. The rest of society is not compelled to act so blindly.
CJ (Orlando)
Bill has been accused and convicted in the public forum. That is the same forum he received these awards. I say take him down. No regrets. He deserves nothing less.
Ben Graham's Ghost (Southwest)
I think no other 1980s era TV show spoke as often and with such depth on feminist themes (including rape) as "The Cosby Show" did. I will not condemn Cosby in totality. I will continue to celebrate the show he created for its lessons for America. These are lessons that many men condemning him today fail to understand. People are as complicated as the 2004 film "Crash" suggests.
third.coast (earth)
[[Colleges That Gave Cosby Honors Face a Tough Question]]

It's not a tough question. If Bill Cosby were not a rapist, then he would have sued Hannibal Buress.

And, anyway, http://www.people.com/article/bill-cosby-admits-affairs-drugs-deposition...
Checker (NJ)
There is no controversy here. Just yank the faux degrees.
RT (New Jersey)
This is a prime example of why good institutions don't award honorary degrees in the first place.
Casey L. (Gainesville, FL)
Yes, Yale, Oxford, Harvard and Cambridge are all detestable universities that don't value education at all.
Anne (NJ)
I have a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania. I received it on the same day that Cosby was given his honorary doctorate. I've written to the President of the University requesting that they revoke his degree. It casts shame on the institution that I love.
Jerry (Happy Valley)
This is outrageous. Bill Cosby is innocent, his only crime was loving too much. Innocent until proven guilty. Free the innocent man.
c. (n.y.c.)
Why is this a difficult decisions? Honorary degrees are symbolic and awarded at the whims of the insitution. What they give they can also take.

Regardless of whether it's allowed (it is), the whole point is to recognize accomplished individuals with good moral character. Mr. Cosby has lost this privilege.
A Goldstein (Portland)
It is pretty clear that Bill Cosby committed some awful crimes against women. However, I think that undoing his complementary degrees are no more important to the administration of justice or to society than the faux degrees are to his formal education. The legal system should pursue and charge him to the extent possible. Gratuitous degree revocation is mostly image buffing and controversy dodging for the colleges.
Steve (Oregon)
Perhaps all these institutions of higher learning should reconsider this practice of granting honorary degrees.
RedPill (NY)
The purpose of a degree is to identify person's skills, knowledge, accomplishments and experiences to those who wouldn't know otherwise. What exactly is the point of bestowing an honorary degree on a famous person who everyone already knows? It is glaring example of brown-nosing and cheap publicity.
Jana Hesser (Providence, RI)
Money.
pjc (Cleveland)
If the degrees were honorary, this is not complicated. He has proven himself to have no honor. The degrees were earned fraudulently, and should be revoked.
Susannah (France)
Accusing a person of something and that person having been found guilty by a jury of their peers are two different things.

I don't know any of those women and I don't know him. Until I see it proven, it is scandal that the mob thrives on. Then as more women jump on the bandwagon one has to wonder where they have been all their lives. Et tu, Judith?

Charge the man with a crime, prove it in court, or consider it a witch hunt.
Bed Head (Westport, CT)
"By his own admission in legal depositions that became public this summer, that Mr. Cosby has engaged in conduct with women that is contrary to the values of Brown". Can't you read? He has admitted to unlawful behavior. What more do you need?
Dr. Bob Solomon (Edmonton, Canada)
Susannah, Cosby signed a statement in which he spoke about how he administered drugs to lower victim's strength and resistance, then performed sexual acts on or by them. He gruffly sent them home without apology or compensation. In most jurisdiction, he has admitted guilt to unwanted sexual touching, sexual abuse, or rape by saying this.
And he justified his actions, saying the unwanted drugging was no worse than feeding a woman drinks.And that is what woman after woman had already charged him with doing. He's convicted himself. Now, that IS a comic touch.
SS (New York City)
It's notable that in at least one case, the decision to revoke is based on Cosby's own, sworn statement. So that's hardly a witch hunt.
Avocats (WA)
Talk about meaningless gestures.

And, of course, there's the fact that he's not been convicted of any of these charges.

Not defending him, just sayin' Why waste the air?
Jim Humphreys (Northampton, MA)
Having taught for many years at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, which is on the NYT list here, I don't know for sure whether the university ever awarded Bill Cosby an honorary doctorate. I do know that he earned an Ed.D. degree in our School of Education at some point in his career. I also recall that, after a lot of pressure from many UMass people, the university trustees revoked the honorary doctorate they had awarded much earlier to Robert Mugabe when he appeared to be a shining hope for the future of what is now Zimbabwe. (UMass also gave an honorary doctorate to the former newspaper pundit Mike Barnicle, who was later found to have fabricated at least one of his touching human interest tales. Has that honor ever been revoked?) I think the message of all this is that colleges and universities need to stop giving out make-believe degrees in order to generate publicity and/or donations. Some of us actually earned our doctorates the old-fashioned way.
Joshua Folds (New York City)
As a sidebar, I am not certain if an "honorary doctorate" indicates that the recipient did not earn his or her degree. By the term "honorary", it is clearly granted in honor of a person's achievements or accomplishments. Does that mean it was not earned? Few would argue that Maya Angelou, who only held an associates degree, should not have been granted an honorary doctorate. After all, she did manage to write an American classic which chronicled both her personal biography and gave a voice and hope to many voiceless Americans. Mark Twain didn't go beyond elementary school. Yet, he defined American literature for generations to come. Are you saying that he didn't "earn" his two honorary doctorates? As for Cosby, I'm "gonna" leave that alone.
Dan Stackhouse (NYC)
I'm confused, how is that a tough question? I fought hard against accepting Cosby's molesting misogyny but it's nearly impossible to doubt now. Revoke the degree, it's a standard action when people have behaved badly, like when Saddam Hussein had all those degrees revoked.
DZ (NYC)
Now there's no difference between Saddam Hussein and Bill Cosby! I love it. I don't know which institutions gave Hussein any degrees, but come to think of it, his "trial" and Cosby's both deserve quotes.
Dan Stackhouse (NYC)
Dear DZ,
That was totally a joke, sorry about that. Saddam Hussein was a murderous dictator, and bad as Cosby's actions were, he never killed anyone. But I bet Saddam did have honorary degrees from fine Middle Eastern universities.
Peter (New York)
King Bhumipol of Thailand is quite a remarkable figure. In addition to holding the world record for most honorary degrees, he is one of the wealthiest royals in the world. And he was born in the U.S. But being a Jazz fan, I recognized his name for his proficiency on the Sax and a number of Jazz compositions he had written. His association with the Preservation Hall Jazz band and Jazz luminaries such as Benny Carter and Jack Teagarden is no less remarkable. Glad to see that American universities are honoring one of our native sons.
DZ (NYC)
Just a shot in the dark, but I'm going to guess wither someplace in Brooklyn, or the UWS. And that goes double for anyone who recommends your comment.
Bert Schultz (Philadelphia)
He attended Central High School in Philadelphia, but failed out of that public honors HS. We regularly attended graduations, including my son's several years ago. He sponsored a scholarship in his son's name there.
S.L. (Briarcliff Manor, NY)
Colleges don't give honorary degrees to honor a person's abilities, but to get a famous person to come to an otherwise boring graduation ceremony. Sometimes, the hype of the honoree overshadows the hard work of the real students. This honorary degree business should be halted. Degrees should be given for real work. It might be noted that Cosby's "real" degree was given on a dissertation on his TV show, Fat Albert. He defended it at a dinner party at his house, where he showed the committee his extensive wardrobe. Amherst should rescind that degree.

Since these honorary degrees were given totally based on his public persona, they should be rescinded. He was known falsely as great guy with high morals and a successful TV show. Now we know the only part of that which is true was the successful TV show. It is dishonoring the degree to let him keep the degrees. After a few places publicly rescind them, he will probably return the rest just to stop the bad press.

Let's not hear from the crowd that believes he's innocent till proven guilty. He can 't be taken to court over the rapes because of statutes of limitation. Even a trial doesn't prove innocence, only a statement of not guilty. We all know how true that was of O.J.
DZ (NYC)
What a disturbing comment. On so many levels.
Laura (California)
NYU is an interesting case. One or two of his children went there and Tisch School of the Arts had him host a fund raiser at least once. I know he also made donations to the school. So far, NYU has been silent.
I think Cosby is a criminal.
But I do not think he is the only person to be awarded an honorary degree who is a seriously flawed person or who has engaged in actions that are against the law. Not all recipients of honorary degrees are ethically admirable. I remember when Tony Kushner's honorary degree from CUNY was vetoed and then (I believe) the New School gave him one to "replace" CUNY's. Honorary degrees are sort of silly really. I hope that Cosby's scandal will cause colleges and universities to abandon them altogether.
Avocats (WA)
I think Cosby is a criminal too. But he hasn't been charged or convicted, so acting on that belief is a bit odd.
treabeton (new hartford, ny)
Seriously. An honorary degree from my university? Because, he drugged and and sexually assaulted a number of women? Get serious. Revoke the award. The only proper response from our institutions of higher learning. Take a stand and do the right thing....................
Avocats (WA)
Except that there's no conviction and no due process. Other than that, sure, go ahead, rescind your imaginary award.
treabeton (new hartford, ny)
"What makes the case compelling.........is the very serious pattern of misconduct that's been revealed both in journalistic accounts and by a large number of women who have now bravely come forward and has been validated by Mr. Cosby's own testimony in deposition about his pattern of conduct."
bruce (ny)
Due process has not been addressed as Mr. Cosby was able to exert undue influence in order to intimidate and discredit potential witnesses with goal of keeping the allegations in question from coming to light. One of the later cases was able go to deposition - that became public - at which point people realized maybe he's not the guy they thought he was all these. Now hopefully they'll have their day in court, and he his.
Jackson25 (Dallas)
For all intents, this guy's life is over. He's a pariah.

Honestly colleges shouldn't bring the exposure of retracting his degrees.

He's going to live out his life with more shame than OJ Simpson. Nobody believes this many women are lying at this point. He's lucky he's not locked up.
Jody (New Jersey)
No one should have doubted one woman speaking up.
Kathy (Tucson)
Or worse. I vote for worse. If I were a family member of one of his victims, I would make my feelings crystal clear.
Jackson25 (Dallas)
@Jody, @Kathy, I agree. Any woman speaking out should've been taken seriously, and his celebrity shouldn't have bought him any special protections.

Not much is more inhumane and disgusting than drugging and sexually violating women. It's hard for me to even type this without wanting to punch the computer.

He's a sick, dangerous, and sad person.
Jack (Middletown, CT)
William Cosby PHD. His PHD in education that he "earned" included some work on Sesame Street, so that's not a real degree either.
Blue Stater (Heath, Massachusetts)
AFAIK, Cosby does not have a "Ph.D." in education. He has an Ed.D. But you're basically right: that's not a real degree either.
Footprint (NYC)
Since when is the Ed.D. not a real degree? Who are you to make that pronouncement? You may feel it's beneath you, Blue Stater, but many many individuals have worked very hard to earn one, and I, for one, respect their effort, their degree, and their commitment to education.
Sherry Moser Steiker (Centennial, Co)
Revoke, don't think twice about it.
JY (IL)
He does not deserve the degrees. But why should colleges be allowed to erase an error they made in the first place? Simply because they can?
kate (dublin)
Yale has a long history of not taking the sexual abuse of women seriously. The New York Times has been reporting on it since at least the mid1970s and did again just last month. So can anyone be surprised?

I was at the Brown graduation in 1985. it was a lovely event, and certainly most people there had no idea of what we know to have already at that time have been Cosby's ugly past. But your reporter does not ask how much the universities and colleges paid Cosby to turn up. Yale probably did not and maybe not Brown either, but I'm sure that many places paid well into five figures for this, and that Cosby cleared well over a million this way.
Bed Head (Westport, CT)
Yale is one of the schools currently being investigated by the Deartment of Education for the gross mishandling of sexual assault complaints on campus as per the newly released documentary 'The Hunting Ground'.
swm (providence)
I don't find it offensive for a university to not bury a piece of their flawed history by rescinding a diploma. I think it shows integrity to not try to erase the misjudgment and keep the awareness alive.

Bill Cosby is being compared to Richard Nixon and Robert Mugabe; he's got much bigger problems than worrying about honorary degrees, why should we worry for him?
BV Imhoof (IN)
Conundrum? Really? If a kid at any of these schools was accused by this many women of rape and being investigated by the L.A. prosecutor, would he be allowed to actually earn a degree, much less be given an honorary one?

Conundrum? Are you high?
Allen S. (Atlanta)
I sure hope not. Just having women accusing a student of rape, without any physical evidence at all, and having a prosecutor open an investigation, doesn't prove anything but suspicion. It's a fine reason for women to refuse to date him, or to be alone with him, but it's a pretty lousy reason to deprive a young man of his education and any hope of recovering his reputation, no matter if none of the claimed victims sues or bring charges, and no matter if the prosecutor closes the investigation the day after the student is expelled.

A post like this getting eight recommendations from readers of the NY Times makes me shudder. Cosby is another matter, but that this poor hypothetical fellow can have his life ruined on such scant evidence makes me think watching Twelve Angry Men or studying the Salem Witch Trials needs to be made mandatory.
Bed Head (Westport, CT)
"By his own admission in legal depositions that became public this summer" read the article
d-funkt (maryland)
hey now, no need to impugn weed smokers!...most of us reason quite well while high.
R.L.DONAHUE (BOSTON)
Why add to the slaughter of this old man who is now off the grid, that is, as long as he keeps his mouth shut and disappears into his now tiny little world.
Buster (Idaho)
I'm guessing that many of these schools have given real degrees to students who've done much worse. Instead of rescinding a worthless degree, maybe schools could simply pay more attention to claims of abuse, rape, bullying, etc. Those things need to be taken way more seriously on campuses!
rick (chicago)
Hopefully verifying the claims will be part of attending to them.
Charlie B (USA)
Winston Smith, the protagonist of the novel 1984, had the job of erasing people from historical records - making them non-persons - when they fell out of favor. They weren't vilified; they simply never existed. I hope we haven't reached that point.

If Cosby's name is on a building or an endowed chair perhaps something needs to be done about the ongoing recognition. But if it's just the awarding of a degree acknowledge that while the award wasn't a mistake at the time, given what we know now it was undeserved. Then let it go.
rick (chicago)
Maybe colleges should only give degrees to people who attended and fulfilled the requirements.
RussP (27514)
Lot simpler than that.

Merely send him a letter, asking him to explain situation, within 30 days. If no reply -- revoke the award.

Yes, $100,000,000 in federal spending was not required for the aforementioned. Will try harder next time.
nanu (NY,NY)
Agree with you, completely. This practice reminds me of the "everybody gets a trophy" nonsense of my 25 year old son's elementary school days. Encourages a very unfortunate sense of entitlement.
RussP (27514)
Whoa, N.

He's not "everybody." He's worth an estimated $2 billion.

You don't think Gloria Allred is doing this, just for truth, justice, and the American Way, do you? Oldest game in the book -- m-o-n-e-y. As in, get real, y'all.
A. Stanton (Dallas, TX)
A few gutsy schools ought to offer him another honorary degree right now, just to see if he has the nerve to show up and accept it and listen to what he has to say for himself.
A. Stanton (Dallas, TX)
And, of course, he has to agree to take questions from the audience.
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