Penn Revokes Wynn's Honorary Degree, First Time in a Century

(Bloomberg) -- The University of Pennsylvania revoked an honorary degree given to Stephen Wynn amid sexual harassment accusations against the casino mogul, the first time the Ivy League school has taken such an action in a century.

The school is also stripping his name from an outdoor plaza and a scholarship he funded, according to a Penn statement Thursday. Wynn, 76, is an alumnus and former trustee of the Philadelphia-based university.

The University of Iowa said Wednesday it’s removing Wynn’s name from its Institute for Vision Research, the first time the school has removed a donor name from a building or institute.

Examining Role

Wynn, chief executive officer of Wynn Resorts Ltd., has denied allegations of sexual impropriety. The Wall Street Journal last week first reported that Wynn pressured employees for sex for years and paid $7.5 million to settle claims by another woman who alleged she was forced to have intercourse.

A spokesman for Wynn on Thursday declined to comment on the moves by either university.

The action comes as industries, businesses and universities examine their role in the response to accusations of sexual harassment. A group of Penn trustees, alumni, deans and faculty “deliberated carefully on the nature of the charges” against Wynn, according to the statement from Amy Gutmann, Penn’s president, and David L. Cohen, chair of the board. The circumstances called for “an immediate, decisive, and clearly ethical response,” they 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,” they wrote.

William Bennett, former secretary of education, said in a statement that Penn’s decision is “hypocritical, as they remove his name from their buildings but are not so quick to return the sizable donations he has made to support important research and learning.”

A Penn spokesman said in an email that Wynn’s donations won’t be returned because Pennsylvania law doesn’t permit returning gifts to nonprofit institutions without court approval.

Penn also announced it was also revoking an honorary degree given to Bill Cosby, who has faced separate sexual misconduct allegations.

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