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Boston College now says it will rescind Bill Cosby's honorary degree

After Bill Cosby was convicted of sexual assault, more colleges are rescinding the honors they previously gave the comedian.
Bill Cosby
Bill Cosby has been found guilty of sexually assaulting Andrea Constand. Photo: Reuters

Boston College will rescind the honorary degree it previously awarded Bill Cosby, a BC spokesperson said on Friday.

"In light of his conviction, Boston College has made the decision to rescind the honorary degree it awarded to Bill Cosby in 1996," BC spokesperson Jack Dunn said in an email. 

The announcement Friday afternoon came after Dunn previously told the Boston Globe that it would not make that move.

“As a matter of policy, we do not rescind honorary degrees,” spokesman Jack Dunn told the Globe on Thursday, “which are given to individuals based on their accomplishments at the time of the award.”

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On Thursday, Cosby was convicted of three counts of sexual assault. More than 60 women have come forward with allegations of sexual assault at the hands of Bill Cosby in the past few years. 

In 2015, Boston University, Amherst College and Tufts University rescinded the honorary degrees they had previously bestowed upon Cosby.

This week, after his conviction, Cosby’s alma mater Temple University took the same step, as did Carnegie Melon, Johns Hopkins, Notre Dame and Wesleyan.

BC’s initial move to not follow suit was particularly puzzling to some alumni who pointed out the school’s adherence to the Catholic Church’s teachings.

Berklee College of Music had also granted Cosby an honorary degree. A spokesperson from that school told the Globe that it did not immediately have comment on its plans. In 2014, however, Berklee College did remove Cosby’s name from a scholarship it awards.

In total, Cosby has received nearly 60 honorary degrees, according to Vulture, since rising to the top of comedy and entertainment in the ‘60s. He’s been awarded these honors in everything from law to education to fine arts. Honorary degrees aren’t often used, like real degrees are to enter a certain field, but mark some success the recipient has already achieved.

It’s traditionally been rare for schools to rescind these honors, the Associated Press reports, but “experts say it has become more common in light of the #MeToo movement.”