College votes to rescind Bill Cosby’s honorary degree

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The College of William and Mary's Board of Visitors voted Aug. 10 to rescind Bill Cosby's honorary degree. COURTESY PHOTO / FLICKR

Friday, Aug. 10, the College of William and Mary’s Board of Visitors voted unanimously to rescind an honorary degree given to Bill Cosby in 1993 in the wake of his conviction on sexual assault charges in April 2018.

“Since that degree was bestowed, information came to light and was confirmed that Mr. Cosby engaged in abhorrent conduct antithetical to our university’s core values,” the BOV said in a written statement. “Mr. Cosby was afforded due process and has now been criminally convicted in a court of law.”

Cosby, formerly of “The Cosby Show,” was found guilty on three counts of aggravated indecent assault, stemming from December 2015 charges. In September 2015, Provost Michael Halleran said that the College did not intend to rescind Cosby’s honorary degree, noting the process for removal would be “messy.”

According to the Aug. 10 statement, the BOV sees the passing of the new resolution, which rescinds Cosby’s degree, as an act that aligns with the College’s goals to address sexual violence.

“The Board of Visitors, in conjunction with the university administration, is committed to both the elimination of sexual violence and the adherence to due process,” the BOV said in a written statement. “We affirm that commitment with our action today.”

Recently, the College’s Compliance and Equity Office released proposed revisions to the Policy on Sexual Misconduct, Relationship Violence and Stalking and to the Student Sexual Harassment and Misconduct Procedure.

These revised policies are available for review and comment through Aug. 21.