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Five schools have so far refused to rescind Rudy Giuliani's honorary degrees.
"It is the epitome of academic cowardice," said one St. John Fisher College professor.
Others disagree. "This whole thing strikes me as political correctness run amok," one Syracuse University law professor said.
Rudy Giuliani has all but obliterated his reputation.
In service to former President Donald Trump, Giuliani made false statements about the legitimacy of President Joe Biden's 2020 election victory. Officials in New York and Washington, DC, have suspended his law license. He remains under federal criminal probe and faces ethics charges in the nation's capital. The US House's January 6 select committee has cast him as an "apparently inebriated" knave peddling election lies.
But as prominent colleges and universities have stripped Giuliani of honorary doctorates they awarded him amid his service as a US attorney or mayor of New York City, at least five others have so far refused to rescind his honorary degrees, according to interviews and documents reviewed by Insider.
The hold-out schools include St. John Fisher College and Syracuse University in New York, Loyola University Maryland, The Citadel in South Carolina, and Georgetown University in Washington, DC.
Some students and faculty there say they're livid that their schools are still extolling a man who on January 6 told Trump supporters to stage a "trial by combat" in the minutes before they marched to the US Capitol and stormed it.
St. John Fisher College, Loyola University Maryland, and Georgetown University are Catholic institutions. Sydney Brooke, a third-year political science student at Loyola University Maryland, said she believes Giuliani represents nothing for which a Jesuit institution is supposed to stand.
"We pride ourselves in the process of discernment, a critical Jesuit value," Brooke, president of Loyola's pre-law society, told Insider. "It is difficult to look at an institution that is supposed to be justice oriented and truth seeking to be ok with Giuliani holding this honorary degree from our university. And I certainly think that it would be a missed opportunity if Loyola continues to fail to reassess this honorary degree."
James Bowers, a St. John Fisher College legal studies professor who in 2015 introduced Giuliani before he received an honorary doctorate in 2015, said Trump's one-time personal lawyer "clearly no longer represents the values that the Board of Trustees and our president professes that they believe in.
"The board cannot in good faith claim that it teaches goodness, discipline and values when it maintains an award to an individual who has basically backed an insurrection against American democracy," Bowers said.
During the 1990s and early 2000s, Rudy Giuliani was widely regarded as a strong leader, and then, a national hero. From the smoke and rubble of the September 11 attacks, he emerged as "America's Mayor."
St. John Fisher College's board of trustees formally decided last March to allow Giuliani to keep his honorary degree, which it awarded for his leadership during the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
Said Bowers: "It is the epitome of academic cowardice."
The Cardinal Courier, St. John Fisher's student-led newspaper, reported last March that a letter, signed by 15 prior class and Student Government Association (SGA) presidents, was submitted to the Board of Trustees voicing strong support for rescinding the honorary degree awarded to Giuliani.
Alumnus Joseph Smith, who spearheaded the letter, told Insider that they resent the letter to the chair and vice-chair of the board in February with additional signatures as well as a petition signed by close to 500 alumni. On March 18, they received a response from Gerard Rooney, president of the college, that stated, "after consultation with board leadership, the Board of Trustees is not planning to revisit this matter at this time."
Many alumni say they will no longer financially support the college if it continues to have a relationship with Giuliani, Smith said.
"Our support as alumni reflects our beliefs in the college's mission and we expect the college to demonstrate the same conviction when it comes to determining who should retain an award as distinguished as an honorary degree," said Smith, a practicing lawyer in Washington, DC.
Officials at St. John Fisher College and Loyola University Maryland, as well as The Citadel, did not respond to Insider's requests for comment. Officials at Georgetown University confirmed Monday that Giuliani received an honorary degree but offered no comment on whether the school has considered rescinding it.
Giuliani, who himself ran for president in 2008, also did not respond to Insider's requests. But in a recent virtual press conference, he in part blamed his troubles on Democrats.
"Part of the problem why the Republican Party is always in trouble is because they lie about us," he said.
During US House's January 6 hearings in June, it wasn't a Democrat — but rather former Trump senior campaign manager Jason Miller — who testified that Giuliani was intoxicated while giving advice to Trump on election night.
Giuliani insisted that the president should declare victory, Miller testified, adding that Giuliani urged Trump to say, "We won. They're stealing it from us."
And the former New York mayor continues making headlines for all the wrong reasons: He recently was slapped on the back by a supermarket worker — Giuliani said it felt like "somebody shot me" — while campaigning for his son Andrew Giuliani, who is running as a Republican candidate for governor of New York.
Some schools cut ties with Rudy
"The totality of Mr. Giuliani's recent actions, which have led to the suspension of his license to practice law, include repeated unfounded claims of widespread election fraud, have significantly contributed to undermining the public's faith in our democratic institutions and in the integrity of our judicial system, and stand in clear opposition to Drexel's values," Drexel University said in a statement at the time.
The University of Rhode Island took away Giuliani's honorary degree this January.
Giuliani no longer represents the "highest level of our values and standards that were evident when we first bestowed the degree," school President Marc Parlange said earlier this year.
Syracuse University could be close to joining them: The Daily Orange, Syracuse University's independent student news organization, reported in April that the University Senate passed a resolution calling for the Board of Trustees to rescind Giuliani's degree.
"The University is reviewing the resolution recently passed by the University Senate to rescind Rudy Giuliani's honorary degree," Sarah Scalese, senior associate vice president for communications, told Insider via email.
Student Association President David Bruen expressed frustration at the university's lack of a clear response to students' continued pleas to rescind Giuliani's degree, especially after Middlebury College and Drexel University decided to rescind theirs.
"This is not someone that Syracuse University should associate with in the slightest, and we should, in fact, set the precedent that these are not our values and we can repudiate Mr. Giuliani's actions," Bruen said.
Students across the campuses that awarded Giuliani degrees have been vocal about the need to revoke them. Hundreds of students at St. John Fisher College petitioned the college and various student organizations at Syracuse University pushed for Giuliani's honorary law degree to be rescinded.
But not everyone at Syracuse University supports that path, including Gregory Germain, a professor of law.
"This whole thing strikes me as political correctness run amok," Germain told Insider.
To Germain, revoking Giuliani's honorary degree, conferred in 1989, signifies the university going down the path of supporting one political view over another and becoming a doctrinal system instead of one that promotes open debate.
While the university might be wise to not grant Giuliani an honorary degree today, it makes little sense to strip him of an honor the university bestowed more than three decades ago, long before Giuliani's involvement with Trump, he said. Similarly, Georgetown University awarded Giuliani an honorary degree in 2002, less than a year after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and two decades removed from today.
"I don't think ultimately people are going to want to send their kids to expensive schools where they're being indoctrinated rather than taught to think independently," Germain said. "If you have independent thoughts and you don't agree with the prevailing view, you're canceled."
Taking away his honorary degree is synonymous to denying the good he did for New York, says Augustus LeRoux, president of Syracuse's College Republicans.
"I don't think suddenly being of the wrong political party undoes any accomplishments or public service Rudy Giuliani has done in the past," LeRoux told Insider.
As for Bowers, he says he hopes the schools that still honor Giuliani will move swiftly to reconsider, even if his own school, St. John Fisher College — soon to become St. John Fisher University — formally decided against doing so.
Because Giuliani effectively supported a coup, he has become a true threat to democracy and he shouldn't be honored, even with degrees that don't hold the same academic weight as traditional ones, Bowers said.
"Rudy Giuliani crossed the line from simply having a different opinion to where his actions are not warranting the continuation of the award," Bowers said.
Read the original article on Business Insider