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 Just now, President Paxson sent out an email notifying the community that the degree has in fact been revoked, in light of the information that has surfaced on Cosby’s (under oath) admission to using quaaludes to drug women that he wanted to have sex with.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According to procedure, an honorary degree may be revoked/rescinded if: “(1)…the conduct of the honorary degree recipient is grossly inconsistent with the values of Brown and (2)…the conduct run[s] counter to or undermine the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:
The following post might seem like a joke, but I promise it’s not. I mean it 100% seriously. Agree or disagree with the merits of my argument that Dave Binder is deserving of an honorary degree from Brown, but please don’t use this campaign as a chance to make fun of him.
Every year Brown gives out honorary degrees to a number of fantastically successful people. In the past couple years alone, Diane Sawyer, Congressman John Lewis, Morgan Freeman, and Nelson Mandela were granted this honor. Offering these unquestionably important individuals an honorary degree is a fantastic way to recognize excellence in society. I would like to propose a different kind of person to receive an honorary degree in 2014, though. I will be nominating Dave Binder to receive an honorary degree. Binder, through 27 CONSECUTIVE appearances at Spring Weekend and a ton of Senior Week performances as well, has a real and profound connection to Brown’s campus culture that perhaps no one else can demonstrate. While the amazing and inspirational recipients of recent honorary degrees are unequivocal, vital contributors to the world as a whole, I am not sure they have done anywhere near as much to profoundly affect the Brown University community.
The 2013 cohort is another magnificently impressive group of people. The problem I have, though, is that the folks we are recognizing, with one notable exception I will address below, have basically no connection to our University at all. Ben Affleck is a worldwide celebrity who has done some fantastic acting and directing, and other recipients are brilliant academic minds whose work has no doubt deepened scholarship in their own fields and bettered the world in general. But Affleck has done very little, as far as I know, to better Brown University specifically, and I suspect the same to be true of many of the other recipients. Continue Reading