The Board of Trustees voted unanimously to revoke the degrees following a recommendation by the school’s honorary degree committee after a “comprehensive and objective review” in December.
“I agree with the Board’s decision,” said university President Marc Parlange in a news release. “Based on the findings of the Honorary Degree Committee, I made a recommendation to the Board of Trustees to revoke the honorary degrees of General Flynn and Mayor Giuliani, agreeing that they no longer represent the highest level of our values and standards that were evident when we first bestowed the degree.”
Margo Cook, chair of the Board of Trustees, confirmed the board’s vote in the news release and said that “the Board of Trustees supports the University and its mission to uphold its values, especially its commitment to intellectual and ethical leadership and fostering an environment of diversity and respect.”
In 2003, Giuliani was awarded the Doctor of Laws Honoris Causa based on his leadership in the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks.
Flynn, who was a 1981 graduate of the university and a three-star Army general, was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters in 2014.
In the recommendation for revocation, the committee cited Giuliani’s participation in a January 6 rally as inciting “domestic terrorist behavior aimed at preventing Congress from certifying the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.”
Flynn, who is seen as a hero in the QAnon movement, pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to the FBI over his conversations with Russia’s ambassador and for a time cooperated with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
But as his case swerved toward a possible brief prison sentence, Flynn fired his lawyers, replacing them with a defense team that worked to unravel his plea in court, and publicly campaigned for a pardon, which he ultimately received from Trump in November 2020.
The honorary degree committee’s report cited Flynn having pleaded guilty to lying to federal law enforcement as part of its decision to revoke his degree.
“As a civic institution, URI has the privilege and responsibility to sustain and preserve American democracy by inspiring and modeling good citizenship,” Parlange said in the statement. “Revoking these honorary degrees reinforces our values and allows us to lead with truth and integrity.”