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University of Rhode Island revokes honorary degrees given to Rudy Giuliani and Michael Flynn

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn will no longer hold honorary degrees from the University of Rhode Island, the school announced Friday. The Board of Trustees and the president approved the motion after an investigation by the URI Honorary Degree Committee.

“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,” said Chair of the Board of Trustees Margo Cook.

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Rudy Giuliani and Michael Flynn.

Jim Watson/AFP and Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images


President Marc Parlange said he agreed with their decision, writing, “they no longer represent the highest level of our values and standards that were evident when we first bestowed the degree.”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. “Revoking these honorary degrees reinforces our values and allows us to lead with truth and integrity.”

Giuliani

Upon review, the committee noted Giuliani’s role in the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol last year. “His words encouraged domestic terrorist behavior aimed at preventing Congress from certifying the outcome of the 2020 presidential election,” it said.

Giuliani, former President Trump’s one-time lawyer, was subpoenaed last week by the House committee investigating the Capitol riot.

The committee also cited the fact that Giuliani was barred from practicing law in Washington, D.C., and New York “for his unfounded claims of rampant fraud during the 2020 presidential election.”

Giuliani had received the Doctor of Laws Honoris Causa in 2003 for leading New York City in the aftermath of September 11, 2001.  

Flynn

The committee pointed to the former general pleading guilty to “willfully and knowingly” lying to the FBI during the Mueller investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election . Flynn did try to revoke his guilty plea, and Trump pardoned his former national security advisor before leaving office in 2021.

The URI decision also cited two speeches Flynn gave — one in Dallas in which he said “a military coup was needed in the U.S.” and another in San Antonio in which he “called for the establishment of ‘one religion’ in the U.S.”

In 2014, the university awarded Flynn — an alumnus of the university and a three-star Army general — the Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters.

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