“We must take a consistent stand against sexual misconduct and cannot accept Cosby’s conduct as consistent with our values,” Bowen wrote Thursday in a letter to alumni. “Goucher will withdraw the honorary doctor of humane letters that was bestowed upon Bill Cosby. We have sent him a letter explaining our intent. Had this information been known at the time, I am confident Goucher would not have awarded this honor.”
The Baltimore Sun reported the college’s action Thursday. The Sun said a Cosby spokesman, Andrew Wyatt, declined to comment.
More than 40 women have publicly accused Cosby of sexual assault, with allegations that date as far back as the 1960s. Many say he drugged them. He has never admitted to sexual assault or been charged criminally.
According to the online news site Inside Higher Ed, several universities have revoked honorary degrees to Cosby recently. Among them are Baylor, Brown, Fordham, Lehigh, Marquette and Tufts. Cosby has received honorary degrees at numerous commencements over the years, and many schools have said they do not plan to withdraw those honors.
In December, Cosby resigned from the board of trustees of Temple University, ending a decades-long tenure on the board of the public university in Philadelphia.
Goucher’s archives show that William H. Cosby Jr. was one of three honorary degree recipients at the college commencement on May 18, 2001. He was listed on the program as an “educator, philanthropist, actor, writer and comedian.”
The other two were Betty Bernstein Taymor, a political activist for female leaders in government and politics, and Joan Austen-Leigh, a novelist, playwright and co-founder of the Jane Austen Society of North America.
Cosby gave remarks that day, but the college did not have a copy of them immediately at hand on Friday afternoon.
But Goucher did have a copy of the statement of citation honoring Cosby that was read aloud to its 2001 graduates. In it, a college official praised Cosby’s “monumental career” and his “tireless efforts in advancing the cause of education and elevating the performing arts.”
The citation also said:
“Through your life’s work — your films, television programs, books, records, and, most of all, the wonderful stories you so masterfully tell — you have entertained, challenged, stimulated and indeed educated entire generations of your admirers on subjects ranging from familial, intercultural, and interracial relations to the importance of appreciating jazz.“In the process, you have subtly — but strongly — influenced a shift in the American consciousness with regard to people of color, bringing the fullness of the African American experience into relief against the flat, diminishing stereotypes that pervade the culture.”