Spelman College severs ties with Bill Cosby

In this photo taken Nov. 6, 2014, entertainer Bill Cosby pauses during an interview in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Evan Vucci/AP)
In this photo taken Nov. 6, 2014, entertainer Bill Cosby pauses during an interview in Washington, D.C.

Spelman College, the historically black women's college in Atlanta, Ga., has decided to distance itself from comedian Bill Cosby in the wake of numerous allegations that he sexually assaulted and drugged women over several decades.

This move is just the latest example of an institution of higher education breaking ties with the 77-year-old icon. His alma maters Temple University and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst have also recently ended their relationship with the former "Cosby Show" star. Cosby and his wife Camille had a long-standing endowed professorship at Spelman.

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"The William and Camille Olivia Hanks Cosby Endowed Professorship was established to bring positive attention and accomplished visiting scholars to Spelman College in order to enhance our intellectual, cultural and creative life; however, the current context prevents us from continuing to meet these objectives fully. Consequently, we will suspend the program until such time that the original goals can again be met," the school said in a statement Sunday.

Last month, Spelman stopped short of rebuking Cosby. In a previous statement, Spelman responded to calls to cut ties with Cosby with a statement saying that philanthropic gifts from the Cosbys were made 25 years ago and that a building they funded was named after Dr. Camille Cosby, not the embattled performer. They also noted that two of the Cosbys' daughters have attended the school. The Cosbys had donated $20 million to Spelman, which remains the largest contribution ever made to a historically black college or university.

Cosby has never been charged with a crime and has denied some past allegations made against him. This past weekend, he told the predominately African-American publication the Washington Informer that he expects the black media to remain "neutral" while covering the ongoing controversy. He also spoke out about how his wife if coping with the ubiquitous coverage of his alleged assaults.

“Love and the strength of womanhood,” he said. “Let me say it again, love and the strength of womanhood. And you could reverse it, the strength of womanhood and love.”

Cosby didn’t make any further remarks on the controversy because he said, “They don’t want me talking to the media.” Cosby's attorney Marty Singer has called allegations against the comedian “unsubstantiated” and “fantastical.” 

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Still, the number of Cosby accusers continues to grow with each passing week. Beverly Johnson, the iconic black supermodel, became one of the most prominent figures to describe an inappropriate encounter with Cosby, in a personal essay she wrote for Vanity Fair.

In that piece, Johnson alleges Cosby drugged her in his New York City home in the 1980s during what was ostensibly an audition for "The Cosby Show." “For a long time I thought it was something that only happened to me, and that I was somehow responsible. So I kept my secret to myself, believing this truth needed to remain in the darkness,” Johnson wrote.

In addition to losing his links to prestigious schools, Cosby has been forced to cancel many dates on his current stand-up comedy tour and has had a planned sitcom with NBC shelved indefinitely.