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Chair In Bill Cosby's Name Suspended By Spelman Amid Rape Allegations

The Atlanta women's college has decided to suspend a prestigious professorship funded in part by Bill Cosby amid the growing allegations of sexual assault.

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Spelman College said Sunday it has suspended the Cosby Chair for the Humanities, which is an endowed professorship funded in part by a $20 million grant given to the school more than three decades ago by Bill Cosby.

The award, officially named the William and Camille Olivia Hanks Cosby Endowed Professorship, was granted in 1988, after Cosby's daughters attended the all-female university, and he gave a $20 million grant to the school. At the time, it was the biggest grant awarded to a historically black college.

The donation also helped build a 69,000-square-foot facility, which houses the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, the college archives, and offices.

AP Photo/http://W.A. Harewood, File

In May 2006, keynote speaker Bill Cosby and Spelman College President Beverly Tatum talk before the start of commencement at the school in Atlanta.

Spelman's website acknowledges that the professorship has been suspended:

"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 school website reads. "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 school spokesperson Audrey Arthur said to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the school would not comment further at this time.

Spelman's decision to suspend the chair comes after Bill Cosby resigned as an honorary co-chair for the University of Massachusetts Amherst and resigned from Temple University's board of trustees, of which he had been a member for 32 years.

The Berklee School of Music, where Cosby holds an honorary degree, also stopped granting a scholarship in the comedian's name, and North Carolina's High Point University decided to remove Cosby from its national board of advisers.

Shortly afterwards, Bill Cosby was stripped of his honorary Navy title, which was originally awarded to him in 2011.

Last week, former supermodel Beverly Johnson spoke out against Cosby, saying he drugged and assaulted her in the mid-'80s at his New York home. Johnson is one of more than a dozen women who have come forwarded with sexual assault allegations against Cosby.

AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File

Camille Cosby, right, looks on as Bill Cosby speaks during a news conference about an art exhbit at the Smithsonian's National Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C.

Cosby has been mostly silent on the allegations against him, but on Friday he spoke to the New York Post and lectured the black media: "Let me say this. I only expect the black media to uphold the standards of excellence in journalism and when you do that you have to go in with a neutral mind."

He also commented on how his wife, Camille, was doing recently and said, "Love and the strength of womanhood. Let me say it again, love and the strength of womanhood. And, you could reverse it, the strength of womanhood and love."

Michelle Broder Van Dyke is a reporter and night editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Hawaii.

Contact Michelle Broder Van Dyke at michelle@buzzfeed.com.

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