Schools distance themselves from Bill Cosby following rape accusations

Entertainer removed from board, advisor positions

Bill Cosby has been popular on college campuses for decades—earning numerous honorary degrees and serving on several boards—but universities are cutting ties with the comedian after a wave of sexual assault allegations against him.

Twenty women have alleged the 77-year old assaulted them since 1965, many coming forward in recent weeks. On Wednesday, the Berklee School of Music and University of Massachusetts (UMass) at Amherst became the latest schools to announce they are distancing themselves from Cosby.

UMass Amherst awarded the actor a Ph.D. in education in 1977. Since then, he has served as an honorary co-chair of the school's $300 million fundraising campaign and a significant donor—giving between $250,000 and $499,999 total. But now, "he no longer has any affiliation with the campaign nor does he serve in any other capacity for the university," according to a spokesman.

Berklee has also broken with Cosby. The school awarded him an honorary degree ten years ago, but Wednesday announced they would cancel earlier plans to award a scholarship in his name.

Other institutions have cut ties with the entertainer:

  • High Point University removed him from their national board of advisors;
  • Freed-Hardeman University cancelled his appearance at an upcoming benefit; and
  • Temple University accepted his resignation from the board of trustees after an alumni campaign and online petition.

Survey reveals how MIT students view sexual harassment and assault

The distancing comes after several women have come forward with allegations that Cosby raped or sexually assaulted them, and that Cosby conspired to cover up the accusations in the early 2000s.

The entertainer dropped from the No. 3 to No. 2,615 on Marketing Arm's most trusted celebrities list, NBC quit plans to develop a new sitcom starring Cosby, Netflix cancelled his comedy special, cable channel TV Land says it will no longer run "Cosby Show" reruns, and multiple talk shows have revoked his guest invitations.

In a written statement, Cosby's lawyer called the claims "increasingly ridiculous, and it is completely illogical that so many people would have said nothing, done nothing, and made no reports to law enforcement," (Hetter, CNN, 12/2; Holley, Waswhington Post/Chicago Tribune, 11/28).


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