Dozens of U.S. colleges have bestowed honors upon prominent men from Hollywood to the nation’s capital who have recently been accused of sexual misconduct. Their dilemma: deciding whether to revoke them.
More than 10 men facing allegations have received honorary degrees that could face scrutiny, including fired news anchor Charlie Rose, who has collected at least nine, and Pixar executive John Lasseter, with at least two.
Some schools have already started cutting ties, including the University at Buffalo, which rescinded a 2001 honorary degree awarded to film mogul and alumnus Harvey Weinstein. The University of Kansas and Arizona State recently pulled two journalism awards from Rose, citing allegations of groping and inappropriate behavior from several women.
But other schools have yet to decide the fate of similar accolades, which are often given to honor success but have increasingly been withdrawn when recipients fall from grace.
“It’s an issue that more colleges are facing now, and I think each one will look very carefully at these situations and make their own determination,” said Timothy McDonough, a vice president of the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges.
Three schools — North Carolina State, New York’s Oswego State and New Jersey’s Montclair State — are all reconsidering honorary degrees given to Rose before he was fired from CBS and PBS on Nov. 21.
The final decision at North Carolina State and Oswego State will be made by their governing boards, which traditionally hold the power to confer and rescind degrees. Oswego State officials said Thursday that they have started the process to revoke Rose’s 2014 honorary degree.
“These are credible allegations of predatory sexual harassment that completely conflict with the core values of our institution and significantly degrade the achievements that were the basis for awarding him an honorary degree,” university President Deborah Stanley said.
Others, however, are standing behind similar commendations.
The Juilliard School in New York, which gave an honorary doctorate to actor Kevin Spacey in 2000, said it does not rescind such honors. Spokeswoman Alexandra Day said the degrees are granted “based on information known about the artist at the time of the award.”
Only hours after NBC host Matt Lauer was fired on Wednesday, some alumni of Ohio University, his alma mater, were calling on officials to scrub his legacy from the school. University officials said they were “disappointed…