By Leora Arnowitz, ,
Published April 28, 2016
More than a 20 universities have rescinded Bill Cosby’s honorary degrees after about 50 women have come forward with claims the once-celebrated comedian sexually abused them, drugged them or tried to. But some institutions have kept their associations with the embattled comedian, who was recently charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault.
The University of Pennsylvania and Yale University are two such examples.
When asked if the criminal charges against Cosby would impact the University of Pennsylvania’s decision to let Cosby hang on to his honorary degree, UPenn was vague.
“The allegations against Mr. Cosby are deeply troubling and we are closely monitoring all developments,” Vice President for University Communications Stephen J. MacCarthy said in an email. “As we stated previously, however, it is not our practice to rescind honorary degrees.”
UPenn’s decision is particularly baffling to some because, according to The Daily Pennsylvanian, the university has in fact revoked two honorary degrees in the past. Additionally, in October 2015, an accuser came forward with a claim that Cosby assaulted her at an international track meet at the university.
Similarly, Yale University, despite a student petition, has yet to sever ties with the 78-year-old star. The university has previously stated it has never rescinded an honorary degree.
Yale and UPenn aren’t alone. Cosby still holds about 40 honorary degrees.
Most shocking of them all may be Temple University’s decision to stay silent on Cosby’s honorary degree. The actor attended Temple in the ‘60s before dropping out to pursue his comedy career. He frequently visited the campus over the years, attending basketball games and speaking at commencements. He and his wife offer a science scholarship at the school, which is still displayed on Temple’s website.
But his association with the university has undoubtedly been a big factor in his downfall. Cosby is facing charges of aggravated indecent assault over his interactions with a former Temple employee, Andrea Constand. It was her 2005 civil suit that brought Cosby’s alleged assaults to light.
A member of Temple’s media relations team told us, “Honorary degrees are granted by the university's Board of Trustees. It would take an action of the board to rescind a degree. As far as I'm aware, the board has not discussed this."
Meanwhile, some other schools, like Ohio State University and Carnegie Mellon told us they are trying to figure out what to do about Cosby’s degrees.
“Carnegie Mellon is having internal discussions regarding Bill Cosby’s honorary degree. The university has not made a decision at this time,” a spokesperson told FOX411.
Ohio State told us the matter was “under consideration by university leadership.” When asked if the criminal charges against the actor were being taken into a spokesperson said, “I do not have any further information at this time.”
Many other universities have stayed silent on the question of Bill Cosby’s honorary degrees.
Which begs the question: why? For at least some of these institutions, the decision may come down to dollar signs.
Cosby's legacy of doling out donations to higher education is decades-old and extensive. According to Internal Revenue Service filings, more than $800,000 in scholarship grants were given through the William and Camille Cosby Foundation from July 2000 to June 2013.
Fisk University, which received a $1.3 million donation from the Cosbys in 1987, has yet to revoke the actor’s honorary degree. A spokesperson for Fisk did not return FOX411’s request for comment.
Spelman College, on the other hand, once received a $20 million donation from Cosby and opted in July to cut ties with the comedian regardless.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.