It’s difficult to imagine this university without Bill Cosby.
Yesterday, Temple released a statement about Cosby’s resignation from the Board of Trustees, including his proclamation that he has “always wanted to do what would be in the best interests of the university and its students.”
Few, if any, faces represent Temple the way the famed comedian has since he left the school in the early 1960s to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. But now, in light of the recent scrutiny surrounding allegations that he sexually assaulted more than a dozen women dating back to the 1960s, his link to the university was doing more harm than good to its surrounding community.
We may never know whether Cosby sexually assaulted all, some or none of the alleged victims who have come forward during recent years. He has never been convicted of a crime. But regardless of the validity behind the accusations – which at this point seems to be unknowable – or the reasoning behind the mass amounts of negative attention Cosby has received during the past month, his presence on the Board of Trustees was no longer beneficial.
In May, the university was named as one of 55 higher education institutions being investigated by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights regarding possible violations in its handling of sexual assault and harassment cases.
To combat the issue, Temple formed a committee aimed to address sexual misconduct.
Cosby’s presence on the Board, despite allegations of sexual misconduct, was counterproductive to the university’s new efforts to improve its handling of reported instances of sexual assault. Although he has never gone to trial for these allegations, these claims of rape may forever be linked to his name.
Other universities were even quicker to cut ties with Cosby. Administrators at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst asked Cosby to step down from his position as honorary co-chairman for its $300 million fundraising campaign. He did so last week. High Point University in North Carolina removed Cosby from an advisory board, at least temporarily. Freed-Hardeman University in Tennessee canceled Cosby’s scheduled appearance there at a Dec. 5 fundraiser.
Cosby has undeniably done a lot of good for Temple since joining the board in 1982 – through donations, commencement speeches and other means. But leaving is the best thing he has done for the university since the recent attention to the allegations.