The Atlanta University Center has been one of the biggest recipients of Bill and Camille Cosby’s philanthropy. In the 1980s the Cosbys donated millions of dollars to Morehouse College, Clark Atlanta University and Spelman College. The gift to Spelman in 1987 was $20 million and was the largest single donation ever received by an HBCU at that time. Spelman created an endowed chair with the donation known as the “The William and Camille Olivia Hanks Cosby Endowed Professorship.” In addition, the school was able to construct the Camille Olivia Hanks Cosby, Ed.D. Academic Center, which houses the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, the college archives and offices.
However, since the re-emergence of rape allegations against the beloved comedian, the 133-year-old all-female college has taken a surprising action. Spelman has suspended indefinitely the Cosby chair and issued the following statement: “The William and Camille Olivia Hanks Cosby Endowed Professorship was established to bring positive attention and accomplished visiting scholars to Spelman College in order to enhance our intellectual, cultural and creative life. The current context prevents us from continuing to meet these objectives fully. Consequently, we will suspend the program until such time that the original goals can again be met.”
The decision by Spelman comes as a huge shock to the HBCU community because of the Cosbys’ influence and power. Cosby’s daughters attended the college in the 1980s and ties to the institution were considered unbreakable. Spelman’s decision comes on the heels of other famous colleges cutting ties with Cosby.