Archived: Historically Black Women’s College Severs Ties with Bill Cosby

By Sheryl Estrada

Once a respected supporter of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), actor and comedian Bill Cosby’s ties to these historic institutions have crumbled in the wake of a recently released and conclusive depositionin which Cosby admitted to giving sedatives to women with whom he wanted to havesexual relations.

This information appears to have been the final straw for Spelman College, a historically Black women’s college in Atlanta. The college has terminated the William and Camille Olivia Hanks Cosby Endowed Professorship, a university spokeswoman announced. The related funds have been returned to the Clara Elizabeth Jackson Carter Foundation, an organization established by Camille Cosby.

The endowed professorship was funded in part by the Cosby’s $20 million donation to the college in 1988. It was established to bring accomplished visiting scholars to campus. At the time, the donation was the largest ever given to an HBCU by African Americans.

Spelman actually suspended the professorship in December when the public became aware that more than two dozen women, including supermodels Janice Dickinson and Beverly Johnson, had accused Cosby of sexual assault or rape. The school said Cosby’s controversy prevented the objectivesof endowed professorship from being met.

The HBCU has a long history withthe Cosbyfamily. In November, President Beverly Daniel Tatum, released a statement, which mentions the relationship:

Two Cosby daughters attended Spelman College. Our building is named after Dr. Camille Olivia Hanks Cosby. The endowed professorship is named after both Cosby parents. The historic $20 million gift that the college received in 1988, more than 25 years ago, came from the Cosby family. Though it is not appropriate for the college to comment publicly on specific allegations against any individual, sexual assault is a profoundly serious issue for any educational institution. Please know that we do not condone sexual violence in any form and understand our critical role as a women’s college to lead in the fight against it.

Cosby’s daughters, Erika and Evin, as well as Keshia Knight Pulliam, who played his youngest daughter Rudy Huxtable on “The Cosby Show,” attended Spelman.

Lincoln University, a HBCU in Pennsylvania, which Cosby raised money for, parted ways with him in the summer of 2014.

According to Inside Higher Ed the university said Cosby was recruited to be part of the first phase of its “Student First” capital campaign, which began in the summer of 2013 and ended in June 2014. To mark the end of that phase he performed a concert in July 2014.

“Mr. Cosby has no current association with the University’s Student First campaign,” the university said in a statement.

Cosby continues to deny the accusations of sexual assault and has never been charged.

On July 26, New York magazine revealed its new cover displaying 35 of the 46 women who have publicly accused Cosby of sexual assault at some point in the past 50 years all seated and dressed in all black, with one empty chair for the women who have remained silent. The image was rapidly shared on social media.

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