Spelman College Suspends Cosby $20 Million Professorship Endowment
In the 1980s, Bill Cosby and his wife Camille established a $20 million professorship endowment for Spelman College, The Cosby Chair for the Humanities. With the recent sexual assault allegations against Bill Cosby, Spelman has decided to suspend its professorship program indefinitely. A Spelman College spokesperson told the Atlanta Journal- Constitution:
“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. 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.”
Spelman alumna and former Cosby professorship chair Pearl Cleage believes the suspension is the right move for Spelman as the college reevaluates their current relationship with Cosby, whose daughters attended the institution.
Spelman’s move follows Cosby’s resignation from Temple University’s Board of Trustees and as University of Massachusetts-Amherst’s honorary co-chair of its capital campaign. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution also reports that High Point University, located in North Carolina, removed Cosby from its national board of advisers, and Berklee School of Music located in Boston will no longer grant scholarships in Cosby’s name.
Spelman’s decision comes as a surprise after TMZ reported in November that the college would not comment on the almost daily allegations mounting against Cosby. Because of their initial stance, Spelman students started the #NotMyFather Twitter hashtag trend, pulling their support of Cosby and his Cosby Show father figure image.
Last week, supermodel Beverly Johnson stepped forward accusing Cosby of drugging her in the 1980s while she auditioned for a role on The Cosby Show, at his home. In one of the few brief statements he’s made regarding the accusations, Cosby told to a New York Post reporter, that he expects Black media to maintain a neutral stance when reporting these allegations and “uphold the standards of excellence in journalism.”
Separately but related, Spelman just received $75,000 in scholarships and grants from Ford Motor Company for its program creating in-home vegetable gardens in the college’s Atlanta neighborhood. So where one door closes, another opens.