UMass formally cuts ties with alumnus Bill Cosby

By Aviva Luttrell

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Comedian Bill Cosby entertains a crowd during a NAACP show at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, in Philadelphia,  on Tuesday, July 13, 2004. (MCT)

Comedian Bill Cosby entertains a crowd during a NAACP show at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, in Philadelphia, on Tuesday, July 13, 2004. (MCT)

The University of Massachusetts has formally cut ties with alumnus Bill Cosby amid allegations that he sexually assaulted more than a dozen women.

Cosby received a master’s and a doctorate in education from UMass in 1976, and remained involved in the school, including serving as an honorary co-chairman of the University’s $300 million fundraising campaign until Wednesday. UMass spokesperson Edward Blaguszewski told the Boston Globe that University officials had asked Cosby to step down from the capital campaign.

“He no longer has any affiliation with the campaign nor does he serve in any other capacity for the University,” Blaguszewski said in a statement to the Globe.

The University’s decision comes after Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley urged UMass to end its relationship with the entertainer.

“At a time when the state is focused on prevention and response to sexual assaults on campus, allowing Mr. Cosby to continue to represent our state university sends the exact wrong message,” Coakley wrote in a letter to University, as reported by the Globe.

Coakley wrote that although Cosby hasn’t been criminally charged or convicted, the UMass community has the discretion to decide who should be the “face” of the University.

Cosby’s lawyer said the allegations are “unsubstantiated,” according to the Globe.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Cosby and his wife Camille have donated between $250,000 and $499,999 to the University, according to a recent report on donations. Cosby also did a benefit performance in 2004 that raised $1.5 million for UMass.

Cosby also has relationships with several other Massachusetts colleges.

Boston University awarded Cosby an honorary doctorate of humane letters during the school’s graduation ceremony last May, according to the Boston Herald. He was also the commencement speaker at BU’s School of Education graduation in 2013.

Berklee College of Music in Boston, which gave Cosby an honorary doctor of music degree in 2004, has also cut ties with the comedian, removing his name from an online scholarship it awards.

The Herald also reported that Tufts University awarded Cosby the Eliot-Pearson Award for Excellence in Children’s Median in 2011.

High Point University in North Carolina has temporarily removed Cosby from its advisory board, according to the Globe.

Cosby still serves on the Board of Trustees at his undergraduate alma mater Temple University.

Aviva Luttrell can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @AvivaLuttrell.