The University of Pennsylvania said Thursday it will revoke honorary degrees it had bestowed on casino businessman Steve Wynn and entertainer Bill Cosby, two men facing multiple accusations of sexual misconduct.
Wynn and Cosby have both denied the accusations.
Penn’s actions were largely focused on Wynn, an alumnus of the Ivy League school and a former member of its board of trustees. The Wall Street Journal last week reported allegations that he pressured some employees to perform sex acts. Citing that report and others, Penn said in a statement: “The nature, severity, and extent of these allegations, and the patterns of abusive behavior they describe, involve acts and conduct that are inimical to the core values of our University.”
The statement was issued under the names of David L. Cohen, chair of the board of trustees, and Amy Gutmann, the university’s president.
The two leaders wrote that the university will remove the name “Wynn Commons” from a centrally located outdoor plaza on the campus in Philadelphia. It also will strike Wynn’s name from a scholarship fund he endowed, although the scholarships will continue to be awarded. And it will revoke an honorary degree Wynn received.
At the same time, the university said, it will revoke an honorary degree it had awarded to Cosby. A trial on charges of sexual assault against the comedian and television star ended in a mistrial in June after a jury deadlocked. A new trial date has been set for April.
“It has been a century since the University of Pennsylvania last revoked an honorary degree, and we do not take that decision — or the decision to remove Mr. Wynn’s name from the Commons and from the scholarship fund he created — lightly,” Cohen and Gutmann wrote. “We view these as extraordinary and essentially unique circumstances that call for an immediate, decisive and clearly ethical response.”
Various schools in recent years have revoked honorary degrees awarded to Cosby.
Penn awarded Cosby’s honorary degree in 1990 and Wynn’s in 2006. Wynn earned a bachelor’s degree from the school in 1963 and served on its board of trustees from 1994 to 2004.