The University of Pennsylvania said Thursday it was cutting ties with billionaire casino mogul Steve Wynn, a former university trustee, after allegations of sexual misconduct that spanned decades.
In an email to students, faculty and alumni, David L. Cohen, the trustees chair, and Amy Gutmann, the university president, condemned Wynn’s “abusive behavior” as described in the reports.
“The nature, severity, and extent of these allegations, and the patterns of abusive behavior they describe, involve acts and conduct that are inimical to the core values of our University,” the email said.
Cohen and Gutmann also said Penn had decided to revoke an honorary degree previously awarded to comedian Bill Cosby, who for years has faced a mountain of sexual misconduct allegations. Cosby has admitted to drugging women, but denies sexually assaulting them.
The university leaders outlined steps Penn would take to distance itself from Wynn, who graduated in 1963 and has donated millions to the school in Philadelphia:
First, we will remove the name Wynn Commons, named for Mr. Wynn, from the centrally located outdoor plaza bounded by Houston Hall, Claudia Cohen Hall, College Hall, and Irvine Auditorium.
Second, Mr. Wynn’s name will be removed from a scholarship fund established by a donation from him. The scholarships will continue to be awarded.
Third, we will revoke Mr. Wynn’s honorary degree.
The announcement comes five days after Wynn resigned as finance chair of the Republican National Committee following an explosive report in The Wall Street Journal on Friday, which included accusations that Wynn sexually harassed several of his casino employees over several decades.
The board of directors of Wynn Resorts formed a special committee to investigate the allegations, and casino regulators in Nevada and Massachusetts said this week they would begin investigations.
Wynn, 76, has vehemently denied the accusations, saying “the idea” he ever assaulted any woman was “preposterous.”
It has been 100 years since Penn last revoked an honorary degree, Cohen and Gutmann noted in their email.
“Our nation is currently undergoing a profound reckoning regarding the role and extent of sexual misconduct in all areas of our society,” the school leaders wrote.
“As a University, we have always been, and will always continue to be, looked to by our alumni and neighbors, our faculty, and most of all by our students, for moral leadership. We must not ― we cannot ― fail to provide it.”