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Hopkins 'actively reviewing' honorary degree awarded to Bill Cosby

Johns Hopkins University officials are 'actively reviewing' whether to rescind Bill Cosby's honorary degree am

Johns Hopkins University officials said Friday that they are reviewing a request to rescind an honorary degree given to Bill Cosby, who has been accused by dozens of women in recent years of sexual assault and sexual misconduct.

"Johns Hopkins University is deeply troubled by the reports and allegations regarding Bill Cosby. As a university, Johns Hopkins has a set of values we seek to uphold and we are actively reviewing this matter," Jason Kravitz, a university spokesman, said in a statement.

Kravitz said the university has never rescinded one of the 470 honorary degrees the school has awarded since 1880. Cosby received his honorary degree from Hopkins in 2004.

"We exercise great care and deliberation in awarding an honorary degree and would do so in the event of revoking one," he said. "We always welcome and take into account input from members of our community on important issues such as this one."

The Sexual Assault Resource Unit, a Hopkins campus organization, asked the university to rescind Cosby's degree on Oct. 24 in a meeting with Hopkins officials and Lili Bernard, an actress who appeared on "The Cosby Show" and who has accused him of rape. The group says Bernard is the parent of a Hopkins freshman.

"The gesture of repealing Cosby's degree would show support for Lili and her family as part of the JHU community, and for student sexual assault survivors," the Sexual Assault Resource Unit said in a statement posted on Facebook. "It would also demonstrate that JHU is serious about correcting their negative history of failing to adequately respond to sexual assault violations. We look forward to JHU making the right decision."

Cosby, 78, has denied breaking any laws and has not been charged with a crime.

The entertainer has received honorary degrees from about five dozen colleges and universities, according to a list published in The New York Times this month. Cosby has been given honorary degrees at the University of Maryland and the University of Baltimore.

A spokesman for the University of Baltimore said this month that school officials are "assessing the situation."

Earlier this month, Goucher College in Towson rescinded an honorary degree given to Cosby.

Some schools have declined to withdraw honorary degrees awarded to Cosby, including Yale University.

jkanderson@baltsun.com

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