Lehigh University rescinds Trump’s honorary degree following Capitol riots

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Lehigh University’s Board of Trustees announced on Friday that it voted to rescind an honorary degree awarded to President Trump in 1988.

The move came following the board’s special session on Thursday, one day after a mob of the president’s supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol in protest of his electoral loss. However, the board offered no other details.

Lehigh President John Simon condemned the riots in Washington, D.C, in a statement this week, calling it a “violent assault on the foundations of our democracy — the abiding respect for the will of the people exercised in a free election and the peaceful transfer of power.”

“I sincerely hope we can turn the sadness and anger that the lawlessness in our nation’s capital has evoked into motivation to make out nation more just,” Simon wrote.

The school, located in Bethlehem, Pa., honored Trump when he was a prominent real estate mogul and author of “The Art of the Deal.” His late brother, Fred Trump, had graduated from Lehigh in 1962.

The businessman arrived to the June 1988 commencement by landing on the baseball field in a black helicopter displaying the name “Trump” in big letters, according to The Morning Call.

Then-Lehigh President Peter Likins introduced him as “a symbol of our age — all the daring and energy that the word tycoon conjures up. His boldness of vision and the splendor of his buildings … are like a designer label on the skyline of New York.”

Since Trump entered politics, Lehigh alumni, staff and students have called for the title to be pulled. 

Multiple petitions have been circulating since Trump won the 2016 election, according to the university’s student newspaper, The Brown and White. One petition in 2017 collected more than 30,000 signatures.

However, the Board of Trustees at the time decided to take “no action” on the push, saying at the time that the university “encourages respectful dialogue, discussion and learning about important societal issues.”

Faculty members attempted again in 2018 to rescind the honorary degree.

Social media users criticized university leadership for only taking action days before Trump leaves office.  

The step came after Trump, during remarks on Wednesday to supporters on the Ellipse, encouraged them to march to the Capitol to urge lawmakers not to certify the Electoral College votes. President-elect Joe Biden won both the Electoral College and popular votes in November. 

Following Trump’s remarks, rioters who approached the Capitol toppled barricades, overwhelmed the Capitol Police and caused mayhem throughout the building, smashing windows, stealing laptops and vandalizing offices.

Four protesters died, including a 35-year-old woman shot by a Capitol policeman as she attempted to access the House chamber.

A Capitol Police officer, Brian Sicknick, 42, also died of injuries sustained during the assault. 

Tags 2020 presidential election Capitol attack Capitol breach Donald Trump Fred Trump Honorary degree Joe Biden Lehigh University Morning Call Trump supporters

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