Breaking: Bill Cosby’s honorary degree revoked


In the wake of both Marquette and Fordham University revoking Bill Cosby’s honorary degrees, many have been curious as to what Brown will do in regards to the honorary degree that Cosby received from our University in 1985. Just now, President Paxson sent out an email notifying the community that the degree has in fact been revoked, in light of the information that has surfaced on Cosby’s (under oath) admission to using quaaludes to drug women that he wanted to have sex with.

September 25th was the first meeting for the University’s Board of Fellows since the release of this information. Subsequently, they agreed to “revoke and rescind the honorary doctorate conferred upon Bill Cosby by Brown University.”

According to procedure, an honorary degree may be revoked/rescinded if:  “(1)…the conduct of the honorary degree recipient is grossly inconsistent with the values of Brown and (2)…the conduct run[s] counter to or undermine the accomplishments that were cited as the basis for awarding the honorary degree.”

Contrasting that with the original reasoning behind the honorary degree, it is clear that Cosby flagrantly violates both clauses:

“Mr. Cosby was specifically honored in the citation for his “ability to integrate [his] personal character into fictional personae that simulate real life while embracing such cherished American values as honesty, fair play, love of family, and respect for humanity.” These are values that the Brown community holds dear and to which we consistently aspire to attain and exceed in our individual and collective lives.”
Finishing up the email, President Paxson writes,
…The conduct that Mr. Cosby has acknowledged is wholly inconsistent with the behavior we expect of any individual associated with Brown. It is particularly troubling as our university community continues to confront the very real challenges of sexual violence on our campus and in society at large, and had it been known to the Fellows in 1985, an honorary degree lauding the qualities quoted above would not have been conferred.
I expect and understand that not all members of the Brown community will agree with this decision. The Board of Fellows, of which I am a member, felt strongly that this was an appropriate action to take in these specific circumstances, and that doing so was in the best interest of the University, its values and mission.”
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