Spelman College announced Sunday that it has suspended the Cosby Chair for the Humanities, a prestigious endowed professorship funded in part by Bill Cosby and his wife, Camille Cosby, over sexual assault allegations against the comedian. The decision comes amid a series of rape and sexual assault claims that have resurfaced over the last month.
The William and Camille Olivia Hanks Cosby Endowed Professorship is named after the 77-year-old actor’s parents and was established after Cosby and his wife gave the school $20 million -- the largest donation from an African-American to a historically black college -- in 1987. It was not revealed if the college was considering changing the name of Camille Olivia Hanks Cosby, Ed.D. Academic Center, which was constructed with the help of the donation, and houses the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art.
"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," Spelman spokeswoman Audrey Arthur said in a statement. "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."
Pearl Cleage, a Spelman College graduate and a former Cosby Chair, said he supported the decision to suspend the program.
“In light of the current accusations against Mr. Cosby, it’s appropriate to suspend the chair while the college reevaluates the relationship with Mr. Cosby, moving forward,” Cleage said, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a local newspaper.
The move by the Atlanta-based college, which was founded in 1881, comes after Cosby resigned from Philadelphia-based Temple University’s board of trustees earlier this month.
The actor spoke to the New York Post's Page Six on Friday, saying that he only expects "black media to uphold the standards of excellence in journalism and when you do that you have to go in with a neutral mind." However, he did not directly address the sexual assault allegations.