When I arrived at in West Philadelphia in the fall of 1999, the University of Pennsylvania had just named the heart of its campus for one Steve Wynn, a 1963 College of Arts and Sciences graduate (not Wharton). At the time, the grumbling was more about just how ugly the broad expanse of vegetation-free stone, topped by a giant, hideous version of the university’s shield, was, than about the name sitting under that shield, even if that name belonged to an allegedly mobbed-up gambling magnate.
That did not bother Penn. After all, this is a school with no compunction about naming things for Michael Milken and gossip columnists who happened to once be married to Ron Perelman. Now, however, new things have come to light about Steve Wynn that make Penn look like rather fertile ground for developing sexual predators and misogynists, and the school is no longer comfortable trumpeting its association with the billionaire (or with Bill Cosby).
Nearly a week after reports emerged of a decades-long pattern of alleged sexual misconduct by former Penn Trustee Steve Wynn, the University announced on Thursday that it will revoke Wynn’s honorary degree, which was granted in 2006, remove the name “Wynn Commons” from the common area outside Houston Hall, and remove Wynn’s name from the scholarship fund that he established by donation….
This is the first time in over a century that Penn is rescinding an honorary degree.
German Kaiser Friedrich Wilhelm II was awarded an honorary degree in 1905, and German Ambassador to the United States and Mexico Johann Heinrich von Bernstorff received one in 1911. Both had their degrees rescinded in 1918 following the United States’ diplomatic break with Germany during World War I.
Other noted alleged sexual predator alumni were spared these indignities, having had the good fortune to donate insufficiently to alma mater to earn honors similar to Wynn’s.
Penn will remove ‘Wynn Commons’ name and rescind honorary degrees from Steve Wynn and Bill Cosby [Daily Pennsylvanian]
University of Pennsylvania to Remove Steve Wynn’s Name From Commons, Revoke Honorary Degree [WSJ]