SAN FRANCISCO—The University of San Francisco’s (USF) Board of Trustees has rescinded an honorary degree that was awarded to Bill Cosby in 2012 due to the recent sexual assault claims and investigations of over 40 different women who have stepped forward.
The USF board took the decision to a vote on September 25, which passed unanimously in favor of rescinding Cosby’s honorary degree. It was reported that on the same day, Brown University’s Board of Trustees also revoked Cosby’s doctorate of humane letters, which was granted 30 years ago in 1985.
Prior to the sexual assault accusations, Cosby was a well-respected figure in academic circles. In 2012, Cosby gave the USF commencement speech on May 18.
The revocation of Cosby’s honorary degree from USF marks the third university that has rescinded Cosby’s degrees; others have included Marquette University, Fordham University, and Brown University. The Berklee College of Music in Boston, Superman College, and University of Massachusetts at Amherst were also reported to have dropped programs that Cosby’s name had been part of.
President of USF, Rev. Paul J. Fitzgerald, S.J. stated that the university sent a letter to Cosby informing him of their decision. A letter was also sent to the USF community on Wednesday, September 30, to notify the university of the board of trustees’ decision.
University spokesperson Gary McDonald emphasized Cosby’s behavior was inconsistent with morals and criteria of the Jesuit Catholic university, and stated that Cosby, “by his own statements in a court deposition made public in July… acknowledges behavior that is inconsistent with the University of San Francisco’s criteria for a USF honorary degree.”
Fitzgerald also announced the university’s dedication and commitment to putting an end to sexual assault on campus, which includes a new protocol announced at a university event by City Supervisor Jane Kim, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon and San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr. USF believes that the new protocol will streamline the approach for victims to safely report sexual assaults and provide authorities with better ways of assisting assault victims with confidentiality.
The university said in a statement on September 28, “At a Jesuit Catholic university, we believe there is a moral dimension to every significant human choice. We strive to take actions that are consistent with the vision, mission, and values statement of the University of San Francisco in these and all endeavors.”