Faculty Senate Moves to Rescind Giuliani’s Honorary Degree

This and other issues came up at the semester’s first Town Hall

Leanna Wells, Editor

The Faculty Senate of John Jay College has voted unanimously to recommend the rescission of an honorary degree given in 1988 to Rudolph W. Giuliani.

Giuliani was awarded the degree at a special convocation on November 17, 1988, one year before an official process was put in place to select degree recipients.

This, among other questions and concerns, came up at John Jay’s virtual Town Hall on February 8. There were more than 250 people in attendance.

John Jay has been conferring honorary degrees since 1977. These degrees serve as a means for a College to recognize distinguished achievements of people who have made significant contributions that relate to the institutions.

The President of John Jay during that time, Gerald W. Lynch, would pick people that he wanted to give the degree to.

There was no faculty senate decision. In 1988, the Senate felt that Giuliani and several people were not worthy of an honorary degree, causing the Senate to come up with a formal policy.

“Because of his speech and his actions, we voted unanimously that we want the degree rescinded,” said Karen Kaplowitz, Vice-President of the Faculty Senate Executive Committee and Associate Professor of English at John Jay.

We just do not want to be connected to Giuliani anymore,” she said.

Only one degree has been rescinded before and it was for Bill Cosby after his admission of using drugs to seduce and conduct sexual acts with women. His honorary degree was rescinded in 2015.

The rescission has to go through President Mason, the Chancellor, and then the Board of Trustees, who will have the final vote.

“I’m very proud that the Senate took this position,” said Kaplowitz.

The learning modality for the rest of this semester was also a concern.

President Mason reminded students that the rest of the academic semester will remain virtual.

“The remainder of the Spring semester will continue to be virtual as well as the Summer session, with the exception of a few science labs,” said Mason.

Students wanted to know whether classes would be back to in-person in the fall.

Mason also announced that the Fall 2021 Planning Committee is in progress. The first meeting for the committee was held on February 11th.

“I attend the Town Hall because it’s important for me to know what’s going on in the John Jay community,” said Jay Chopra, Peer Program Coordinator for Student Academic Success Programs at John Jay.

I always leave feeling more informed and more connected to my students and colleagues,” he said.

There is always a scheduled time for reminders and announcements during the meeting.

The Center for Student Involvement and Leadership in collaboration with several student organizations, is hosting a series of virtual events for Black History Month. For more information click here.

Malaine Clarke, the Director of Health Services at John Jay, announced that the school now has a permanent nurse practitioner, after years of not having one.

Resources for students were also shared at the meeting and the following were announced.

The Wellness Center provides food vouchers for students, even if they are not able to come to campus. Students can contact [email protected] or fill out a form here.

John Jay also has a book voucher program to assist students with their textbooks for the semester. The form can be located here.

Jay Chopra emphasized the importance of Town Hall meetings and why he attends.

“I think that going to one Town Hall is great, but it’s even more beneficial to attend as many as possible,” said Chopra.

There are always announcements, updates, and topics that are important. It’s also very likely that someone might raise a concern or idea that can benefit you!,” he said.

The next Town Hall will be held on March 9, 2021 during Community Hour.