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St. John Fisher trustees say Giuliani can keep his honorary degree

Mar 12, 2021

Rudy Giuliani.
Credit wnyc.org

St. John Fisher College will not rescind an honorary degree bestowed on Rudy Giuliani six years ago, the college’s board of trustees announced Friday.


The board had been under pressure from faculty and alumni to strip the former New York City mayor and personal attorney to former President Donald Trump of the degree.

Proponents of revoking the degree cited Giuliani’s role in the violent uprising at the Capitol on Jan. 6 and his statements perpetuating the false narrative that last year’s presidential election had been stolen.

“The matter of rescinding an honorary degree is within the purview of the college’s board of trustees, as is the authority to grant the distinction,” the board’s statement read.

“After extensive board deliberations, the board today voted on whether to rescind the honorary degree,” the statement went on. “A decision either to grant an honorary degree, or rescind an honorary degree, requires a two-thirds majority of the entire board, which was not achieved. No further action will be taken.”

Colleges frequently award honorary degrees to high-profile speakers, and Giuliani received his from St. John Fisher when he delivered the commencement address there in 2015. College officials at the time said that Giuliani was invited because of his leadership in the aftermath of the 2001 terrorist attacks.

Before serving as mayor of New York City from 1994 to 2001, Giuliani had a distinguished career as a federal prosecutor in Manhattan that included a successful prosecution of mafia bosses.

He left the mayoralty as “America’s Mayor,” but his popularity has waned considerably since then as he became inextricably linked to Trump.

Outside the Capitol in January, Giuliani seemed to urge a crowd of thousands of Trump supporters toward violence in the name of overturning the presidential election.

“If we’re wrong, we will be made fools of, but if we’re right, a lot of them will go to jail,” Giuliani said. “Let’s have trial by combat.”

A week later, trustees at Middlebury College in Vermont voted to rescind an honorary degree they had awarded him in 2005, spurring the campaign among alumni and faculty at St. John Fisher for their trustees to do the same.

David Andreatta is CITY's editor. He can be reached at dandreatta@rochester-citynews.com.