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University Revokes Honorary Degrees From Giuliani and Flynn

University Revokes Honorary Degrees From Giuliani and Flynn

The University of Rhode Island (URI) voted Friday to revoke honorary degrees previously awarded to retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn and former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

The URI Faculty Senate Executive Committee had requested the URI Honorary Degree Committee to deliberate the matter in December and forwarded its recommendation to URI President Marc Parlange at the end of the month. “After reviewing the recommendation from the President, who endorsed the committee’s recommendation, the Board voted to approve the revocation of these honorary degrees,” Margo Cook, chair of the board of trustees, said in a statement to the media. “The Board of Trustees supports the University and its mission to uphold its values, especially its commitment to intellectual and ethical leadership and fostering an environment of diversity and respect.”

Giuliani was awarded the Doctor of Laws honoris causa in 2003 based on his demonstrated leadership in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. In 2014, Flynn, who was a 1981 graduate of the university and a three-star Army general, was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters.

The Honorary Degree Committee, which is made up of URI faculty, staff, and students — and chaired by the provost — conducted a “comprehensive and objective review of the available evidence regarding this matter,” according to university spokeswoman Dawn Bergantino. The committee said that Flynn had pleaded guilty twice to a felony count of “willfully and knowingly” lying to the FBI in exchange for a plea agreement. In June 2021, at a conference in Dallas, Flynn appeared to suggest that a military coup was needed in the US like the one staged by the military in Myanmar in 2021.

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The committee also noted that Giuliani participated in the January 6, 2021 rally that incited the insurrection on the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., and that he has been suspended from practicing law in Washington, D.C., and the state of New York for his unfounded claims of rampant fraud during the 2020 presidential election.

Marc Parlange, who took over as URI president last year, said he agreed with the board’s decision. “Based on the findings of the Honorary Degree Committee, I made a recommendation to the Board of Trustees to revoke the honorary degrees of General Flynn and Mayor Giuliani, agreeing that they no longer represent the highest level of our values and standards that were evident when we first bestowed the degree,” said Parlange.

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