UNC’s Board of Trustees voted Thursday morning to revoke comedian Bill Cosby’s honorary degree. The decision comes following Cosby’s conviction of sexual assault in late April.
Chancellor Carol Folt says this is the first time the university has ever revoked an honorary degree, which was presented to Cosby in 2003.
Folt describes this decision as a necessary step.
“When we looked at what he had been charged with and what he’s done is so counter to our values, that we felt he no longer merited that high honor,” says Folt.
This is the latest step in Cosby’s fall from grace. The comedian, who spoke at UNC’s commencement in 2003, was accused by at least 60 women of sexual misconduct. Cosby was eventually found guilty of three sexual assault charges against Andrea Constand and now faces up to 30 years in prison.
Folt says she doesn’t foresee this case setting a precedent for the university reviewing those they’ve awarded honors to in the past.
“I believe the people we give them to merit that honorary degree,” she says, “so I think it’s a very unusual case when something like this happens, and so I certainly don’t look forward [or] anticipating that happening.”
The board’s vote to revoke Cosby’s degree was unanimous.