Marquette released a statement regarding sexual assault allegations against Bill Cosby, which resulted in the comedian — who spoke at Marquette’s 2013 commencement — resigning from Temple University’s Board of Trustees Monday afternoon.
“Marquette University hosted Bill Cosby a few years ago for breaking down racial barriers and for his dedication to education,” said university spokesman Brian Dorrington in an email. “At that time, several well-known universities across the country hosted him during Commencement ceremonies for similar reasons.”
Dorrington did not mention the honorary doctor of letters degree granted to Cosby during the commencement, although a number of schools have cut ties with Cosby in recent weeks.
“Whenever we decide to host a commencement speaker, we consider several aspects including the speaker’s credentials and accomplishments,” Dorrington said.
Sixteen women have now publicly stated that Cosby sexually assaulted them, with 12 saying he drugged them first and another saying he attempted to drug her, according to a Washington Post article.
Cosby faced allegations for several years prior to his Marquette commencement speech, but the university still opted to have him speak.
Robert Masson, chair of the theology department and a member of the all-university committee responsible for selecting the commencement speaker, did not have anything to say about the situation other than noting that it is a very dismaying situation regardless of future outcomes.
Andrea Constand, director of operations for the women’s basketball team at Temple University first brought allegations against Cosby in January 2004 when she reported that Cosby sexually assaulted her.
From this time until the most recent allegations, Cosby spoke at university commencements for Temple, Carnegie Mellon, the University of San Francisco and others. During his speech to the Marquette graduating class of 2013, Cosby encouraged students to make the world a better place.
“This world needs people to understand the humanitarianism,” Cosby said. “But within that is integrity. Integrity, not to find out how you can get a guilty person off, but how you can assign that guilty person to a place where that person will be helped, to smooth out the tangled wiring.”
In the light of recent allegations, Cosby lost connections with a number of schools. The Berklee College of Music will no longer award a scholarship in Cosby’s name, and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Cosby’s alma mater, had him step down as honorary co-chairman of a $300 million fundraising campaign.
Cosby announced his resignation from Temple’s Board of Trustees in a statement after serving on the board for more than three decades.
“I have always been proud of my association with Temple University,” Cosby said in a statement. “I have always wanted to do what would be in the best interests of the university and its students. As a result, I have tendered my resignation from the Temple University Board of Trustees.”