The Johns Hopkins University has decided to rescind Bill Cosby’s honorary degree, hours after a jury returned a guilty verdict on charges the comedian drugged and molested Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia home 14 years ago.
“As a university, we stand in firm opposition to sexual assault, whether on our campuses or elsewhere,” Hopkins spokesman Dennis O’Shea said in a statement. “This decision underscores that opposition.”
O’Shea said that at the time Hopkins awarded Cosby an honorary degree in 2004, school officials were unaware of the many allegations against him. He added: “The jury’s decision today is the result of a fair and independent process. Accordingly, the Board of Trustees has decided to revoke Mr. Cosby’s degree.”
A campus organization had requested the university revoke Cosby’s degree in 2015.
The Sexual Assault Resource Unit met with campus officials, along with one of Cosby’s accusers, Lili Bernard. Bernard was the parent of a Hopkins student at the time. Hopkins officials previously said they were “actively reviewing the matter.”
Bernard, who said Cosby sexually assaulted her before giving her a one-time role on "The Cosby Show" in 1992, became so emotional Thursday in the courtroom gallery that she accidentally banged her forehead on the bench in front of her.
After the trial, Bernard praised the university’s decision to revoke Cosby’s degree and told The Sun: “I am grateful to Johns Hopkins University for this gesture of support for me and my son, Rafael Bernard Ferguson.”
“This is a great day for survivors of sexual assault,” including those on the Hopkins campus, she said. “It’s heartening to see the university rise up and stand on the right side of history.”
Three schools from the University System of Maryland -- University of Baltimore; University of Maryland, College Park; and University of Maryland Eastern Shore -- are discussing requests to rescind honorary degrees previously awarded to Bill Cosby, according to Mike Lurie, spokesperson for the University System of Maryland.
"Once such a request is submitted to the USM, the Board of Regents may consider it as early as its next scheduled meeting on June 22," Lurie said.
Goucher College revoked the comedian’s degree in 2015, citing the accusations against him.
The names of Cosby and his wife, Camille, also grace a community center run by St. Frances Academy in East Baltimore. The couple donated $2 million to the center in 2012, and it was rechristened the Drs. Camille and Bill Cosby Community Center.
After the verdict on Thursday, principal Curtis Turner said, “We removed the name from the building immediately.” He said school leadership was not aware of all the accusations when it decided to honor Cosby and his wife in 2012.
The Associated Press and Baltimore Sun reporter Jessica Anderson contributed to this article.