Honorary degree, children’s media award revoked from Bill Cosby

Tufts' Board of Trustees revoked Bill Cosby's honorary Doctorate of Arts and Eliot-Pearson Award for Excellence in Children's Media this week amid sexual assault allegations leveled at the comedian. Olivier Douliery / Abaca Press / MCT

The university has withdrawn an honorary degree and children’s media award from former stand-up comedian Bill Cosby, following revelations this summer that Cosby admitted in 2005 court documents that he gave drugs to women with whom he wanted to have sex.

In an email to the Tufts community yesterday, University President Anthony Monaco announced that the Tufts Board of Trustees revoked the honorary Doctor of Arts degree awarded to Cosby at the 2000 Commencement ceremony, and that the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development had withdrawn the 2011 Eliot-Pearson Award for Excellence in Children’s Media that he received.

Mr. Cosby has demonstrated a lack of character and integrity that clearly does not represent the values to which our university is committed and for which he was honored,” Monaco said in the email.

The same determination was made in November 2012 about cyclist Lance Armstrong, who received an honorary degree from Tufts in 2006.

“While continuing to respect the significant work of the Lance Armstrong Foundation, the Board [of Trustees] concluded that, in the wake of a report of the United States Anti-Doping Agency and its acceptance by the International Cycling Union, Mr. Armstrong’s actions as an athlete were inconsistent with the values of the University,” Executive Director of Public Relations Kim Thurler told the Daily in an email.

The Board of Trustees’ Honorary Degree Committee proposed the revocation of Cosby’s degree to the Board, which decided that the achievements for which Cosby received his honors were not deserving of sustained recognition in light of his conduct, according to Monaco.

“The Board’s decision was made after lengthy and serious consideration,” he said. “The Board agreed that revocation was appropriate in light of Mr. Cosby’s conduct, which we now believe to have been inconsistent with the high standards of Tufts University.”

Tufts’ decision comes in the wake of many other schools revoking honorary degrees from Cosby, including Goucher College, Brown University, Fordham University, Marquette University, Baylor and Pennsylvania Wilkes University. According to an ABC News article, Cosby resigned from the Board of Trustees of Temple University in December of last year as sexual assault allegations against him proliferated.

While Cosby has never been charged with a crime, over 40 women have publicly accused him of sexual assault, including 35 women who shared their stories in the widely shared Vanity Fair July cover story.