Bill Cosby’s honorary University of Maryland degree was officially rescinded Friday, the system Board of Regents announced.
University officials first formally recommended to the Board of Regents that Cosby’s degree be revoked in April. Cosby, who has been accused of sexual assault by more than 50 women, was convicted that month on three counts of sexual assault. He was awarded an honorary doctoral degree in performing arts after speaking at this university’s spring commencement in 1992.
The decision came Friday at the University System of Maryland’s full Board of Regents meeting. Two other schools within the University System of Maryland — the University of Baltimore and the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore — also stripped Cosby of his honorary degrees from their respective universities.
“The universities’ requests, and the board’s decision, to rescind honorary degrees awarded to an individual later convicted of sexual assault reaffirms our values and sends a signal to all students, faculty, and staff across our institutions and to the people of Maryland,” Chancellor Robert Caret said in a statement. “Sexual misconduct will not be tolerated, much less honored.”
No other institution in the system awarded an honorary degree to Cosby, according to the statement.
Cosby was first charged with assault in 2015, stemming from a 2004 incident with Temple University employee Andrea Constand. Cosby has admitted to giving women Quaalude, a sedative that has been illegal since 1984, with the goal of having sex with them.
This university’s Student Government Association President Jonathan Allen — along with University of Maryland, Baltimore SGA President Noah Johnston and student regent William Shorter — sent a letter last week requesting the board rescind Cosby’s degrees at the universities. Allen said he reached out to the SGA president at the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore, but never received a response.
“The honorary degrees previously bestowed upon Mr. Cosby are no longer appropriate or justifiable,” the letter read. “Our universities should refuse to tolerate any type of sexual harassment, misconduct, or intimate partner violence, and they especially should not honor perpetrators of these crimes.”
Allen commended the board for its quick response, noting Friday’s meeting was the first since Cosby’s conviction.
“I’m really glad they acted upon this swiftly,” Allen said. “I don’t think we could’ve waited any longer.”
Joey Miller, a rising senior middle school math and science major, said he thought the decision made sense.
“He’s obviously done some pretty messed-up stuff, and usually honorary degrees are reserved for people who are exemplary,” Miller said.
Julia Audet, a rising senior communication and management major, said while she was glad to see this university rescind Cosby’s degree, she would’ve liked to see further action taken.
“I think it’s a good message, if they’re consistent with what they do,” Audet said. “Having more sexual assault awareness on campus and things of that nature might be even a stronger message than just rescinding a degree.”