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Howard University Votes to Revoke Sean Combs’s Honorary Degree


Howard University announced on Friday that it would revoke an honorary degree that was awarded to the hip-hop mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs in 2014. The decision comes in the wake of Mr. Combs’s admission that he physically abused a former girlfriend, in addition to a slew of other allegations of abuse that have surfaced in recent months.

At the conclusion of a meeting of the Howard University board of trustees, the body voted unanimously “to accept the return by Mr. Sean Combs of the honorary degree,” according to a statement released by the university. Howard also said that it would revoke all honors and privileges associated with the degree.

Mr. Combs, 54, also known as “Puff” and “Diddy,” attended the university from 1987 to 1989 but left before graduating. In 2016, he pledged $1 million to establish the Sean Combs Scholarship Fund, which went to students in need of financial aid.

Video footage surfaced last month of Mr. Combs striking, kicking and dragging his former girlfriend, Casandra Ventura, known professionally as Cassie, in 2016.

“Mr. Combs’s behavior as captured in a recently released video is so fundamentally incompatible with Howard University’s core values and beliefs that he is deemed no longer worthy to hold the institution’s highest honor,” the statement said.

Howard University did not immediately respond to additional requests for comment.

In November 2023, Ms. Ventura filed a lawsuit accusing Mr. Combs of rape and physical abuse; they reached a settlement the next day. Then, in May, CNN published surveillance footage it had acquired from a Los Angeles hotel that showed Mr. Combs attacking Ms. Ventura near the building’s elevators.

Mr. Combs subsequently posted an apology video on Instagram with the caption “I’m truly sorry.”

“I hit rock bottom — but I make no excuses,” he said in the apology video. “My behavior on that video is inexcusable. I take full responsibility for my actions in that video.”

Howard University was founded in 1867 to educate freed slaves, and today is a renowned historically Black university. Notable alumni include politicians, actors and writers, such as Vice President Kamala Harris and the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Toni Morrison. Last year, the university awarded honorary degrees to Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina and Keith Christopher Rowley, the prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago.

The loss of the honorary degree comes amid ongoing legal troubles for Mr. Combs, who is the founder of Bad Boy Records. In March, federal agents raided Mr. Combs’s homes in Los Angeles and the Miami area, which officials said was related in part to a human trafficking investigation. No charges have been filed in relation to that case.

The raids followed lawsuits in which four women, including Ms. Ventura, accused Mr. Combs of rape and sexual assault and a man accused him of unwanted sexual contact. Lawyers for Mr. Combs have begun to file motions to dismiss the sexual assault suits.

This month, as his legal troubles mounted, Mr. Combs sold his majority stake in his media company, Revolt. He had previously sold his half of a liquor brand, DeLeón, for roughly $200 million after its parent company said Mr. Combs’s reputation had been tarnished. And a New York charter school network Mr. Combs had worked to expand cut ties with him.

In addition to stripping Mr. Combs of the honorary degree, Howard said that it would return his $1 million contribution and disband the scholarship program in his name.





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