US university strips rapper Sean Combs of honorary degree

June 8, 2024
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 10: Entrepreneur and philanthropist Sean "Diddy" Combs delivers the commencement speech at Howard University's 146th commencement exercises on May 10, 2014 in Washington, D.C. Also honored at the convocation were CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer, Chairman and CEO of PespiCo Indra K. Nooyi, professor of surgery Dr. Clive Callender, and jazz legend Benny Golson. (Photo by Allison Shelley/Getty Images for DKC)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 10: Entrepreneur and philanthropist Sean "Diddy" Combs delivers the commencement speech at Howard University's 146th commencement exercises on May 10, 2014 in Washington, D.C. Also honored at the convocation were CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer, Chairman and CEO of PespiCo Indra K. Nooyi, professor of surgery Dr. Clive Callender, and jazz legend Benny Golson. (Photo by Allison Shelley/Getty Images for DKC)

Howard University announced Friday that it has revoked the honorary degree conferred upon Sean Combs —  also known as Diddy — following a unanimous vote by the Board of Trustees. 

This decision comes after a recently released video showed behavior that the university deemed fundamentally incompatible with its core values.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Board of Trustees said, “The Howard University Board of Trustees voted unanimously today to accept the return by Mr. Sean Combs of the honorary degree conferred upon him in 2014. This acceptance revokes all honors and privileges associated with the degree. Accordingly, the Board has directed that his name be removed from all documents listing honorary degree recipients of Howard University.”

The university's decision follows a recently published Rolling Stone article, which detailed allegations that Combs had abused a girlfriend on campus in the late 1980s. 

According to the article, Combs was seen screaming in a “belligerent” manner and hitting the young woman with what appeared to be a belt.

Howard University emphasized its strong opposition to all acts of interpersonal violence. 

In addition to revoking the honorary degree, the Board has instructed the administration to terminate a 2016 gift agreement with Combs, disband the scholarship program named after him, return his $1 million contribution, and terminate a 2023 pledge agreement with the Sean Combs Foundation.

The statement clarified, “No payments toward the $1 million pledge have been due or made by the Sean Combs Foundation as of this date, therefore no funds are due to be returned under the 2023 pledge agreement.”

Combs was a former student who attended Howard University for two years before dropping out in 1990. He received the honorary doctorate and served as commencement speaker in 2014. 

In 2016, he announced a $1 million donation to the university to create a scholarship fund for undergraduate business majors in need of financial assistance, which included internships and mentoring opportunities through Combs Enterprises.

Howard University and the Board of Trustees have declined to comment further on the matter.

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