President Donald Trump approaches the podium during a campaign rally at Veterans Memorial Coliseum on June 8, 2016, in Phoenix, Arizona. On March 13, 2020, President Trump declared a national emergency over the coronavirus outbreak. (Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons)

Lehigh faculty vote in favor of rescinding Trump’s honorary degree


In an overwhelming vote, Lehigh University faculty have decided to move forward with presenting a motion to rescind President Donald Trump’s honorary degree to the board of trustees.

Of the 357 faculty members who participated, 83 percent voted in support of the motion, 14 percent voted against it and 3 percent chose to abstain.

Only assistant, associate and full professors were eligible to vote, giving 472 faculty members the option to participate. Professors of practice, lecturers, instructors and adjunct professors were not able to vote.

Doug Mahony, the chair of the faculty steering committee, said the vote was an example of faculty members using the processes and procedures of the university to advance their perspective.

“The faculty spoke, and I think spoke rather strongly, in terms of the number of faculty participating and the overwhelming support of the motion as written,” he said.

Mahony said the results of the faculty’s electronic vote will be conveyed to the board of trustees. From there, it is up to board members to determine when and how best to proceed with the motion.

Last year, they voted to take “no action” on a 30,000-signature petition regarding the matter.

Ziad Munson, an associate professor of sociology, previously told The Brown and White the motion is important because, regardless of the board’s ultimate decision, the faculty’s position will become part of university record.

“It will be part of the permanent history of Lehigh,” Mahony said.

In a Feb. 27 referendum, Student Senate also announced its support of the motion and requested a written explanation should the board of trustees choose not to vote in its favor.

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    • Amy Charles '89 on

      This is my favorite tweet about this whole thing.

      So if the trustees ignore the faculty, and B&W doesn’t report on who these trustees are and what sort of interests they might have there, and I do it in comments, how much trouble will your advisor be in?

    • When I hear my beloved Lehigh (at least its faculty, students) acting, or should I say, “acting out” like pampered PC infants, I want to never donate again. We want the alums to be alienated by the radical PC faculty, and misguided student body? I beg that you think long and hard about this. Conservatism, constitutional originalism, desire for FREEDOM over feelings, correlates perfectly with WEALTH, AGE (knowledge), and WISDOM. F your safe spaces, hot cocoa and comfort pets. Grow up and become men, and women. This is the Lehigh that I knew, Sink of swim. On your own merits. Get the grades or go home. I am sick of having my wealth stolen to pay the non-productive to have bad behavior. I am done with Obama telling me my money would be better spent by other people. Sad direction for both our country, and our university. Start debating on the reason, facts, logic, and fight the urge to make your entire worldview about personality and feelings. Grow up students and faculty. Do your job and stop trying to push the Dem’s socialist ideals. Alumni need to start flexing their muscles and throw out the radical leftist professors

  1. Current Student on

    Who even cares? No student actually gives a heck about this, except in the hopes they will get some 15 minutes of fame.

    Maybe focus more on how to, I don’t know, lower the cost of tuition, decrease class size, figure out how to increase enrollment by 1000 when the library is disgustingly overcrowded and the dining halls are filled with students standing around not finding a place to sit.

    Lehigh and President Trump both have much more important things to focus on. President Trump seems to be focusing on improving the country, Lehigh seems to be more focused on making a political statement than improving the student’s experiences.

    • Amy Charles '89 on

      You know, in-state, Rutgers is only like $14k, and they buy their faculty from the same shops. Landscaping’s not a patch on Lehigh’s, but you can’t make it all up on volume.

    • You know that the faculty have no control over the cost of tuition, class size, seating in the library and dining halls, right? The faculty is a distinct body from the administration or the Board of Trustees. What the faculty do have control over is who to endorse and recommend to the Board of Trustees for an honorary degree. If you’re wanting the faculty to do more in the classroom, like hold debates, write papers, offer certain classes or seminars to dissect Trump, his politics, and his rise to power, that’s fine and you should take that up with your favorite professors and the dean of your college. But you also know that people are capable of doing more than one thing at the same time, right? This is a first step in showing that someone has enough of a backbone to say that, as an institution, we don’t honor Trump.

      • Current Student on

        I do realize that. I do think that since they are petitioning this (which does not affect anyone, mind you), why don’t they petition for something that actually does affect students?

        Instead not being able to find a seat in FML or Lindy, which can hurt academic performance (something professors should care about), why don’t they vote on that?

        For any serious student (not some soft millennial), the fact that DT has an honorary degree will not change my effort or success in class. And if it does, maybe you shouldn’t be at a university as prestigious as Lehigh.

        Personally, I am proud that Trump has an honorary degree from Lehigh. He has accomplished a great deal and that is a fact, regardless of how you feel about his policy.

        It’s a lot easier to make a hollow political stance then to make a legitimate change.

      • Current Student on

        This virtue signalling is frankly pathetic, the faculty have other matters that are much more productive, especially since a quarter of professors didn’t even vote?

        And why should we base a decision made on the politics of professors? What is the point of that? If DT degree is revoked, what good does it even do? Tell successful conservatives that their achievements are not going to be acknowledged because they have the wrong politics?

        Sounds like a load of BS.

        • Make Lehigh Great Again on

          Trump isn’t a successful conservative. He has a 32% approval rating, he and his staff are under investigation for colluding with foreign governments and obstructing justice, he can’t keep a staff (they either quit or get indicted), he’s been accused of sexual assault by several women, his various business “empires” have filed for bankruptcy a total of six times, his hallmark initiatives are constantly being blocked as unconstitutional by the courts, he struggles to demonstrate even the least bit of empathy in the face of national tragedy (i.e., school shootings), his incessant need to Tweet has nearly launched us into a nuclear conflict with North Korea, America has lost respect on the global stage. How is he making America great again? By supercharging white supremacists to march with lit torches in the street?

          • America lost respect on the global stage when Obama went on his apology tour. A lot of us are thankful that the socialist/community organizer is out of office after sending our country into moral decay, playing the race card every chance, and creating division via identity politics non-stop. The judicial branch is currently playing bias on their blocks. The last administration knew nothing of the Constitution. And really with the white supremacy non-sense? Why was it so hard to admit that antifa is domestic threat? If you actually watch and listen to what the President said, he condemned people on both sides. The Left (not including moderate Democrats) have lost their minds. God has been removed from the public square over the last several decades and we’re watching the affects of that occur right before our eyes. Trump is righting the ship that has sailed off course and there is a reason he was elected. Personally, I was a fan of Dr. Carson, but I know why Trump was elected and he got my vote simply to bring the courts back to constitutionality. Disappointed in the faculty making this decision. It puts them right up there with the rest of the elite academics that still do not understand how DT was elected. And yes I am an alumnus of Lehigh, class of ’98.

            • Make Lehigh Great Again on

              Ben Carson? The same Ben Carson who just this week was named the subject of a whistleblower complaint for misappropriating $165,000 for lounge furniture and $31,000 for an in-office dining set at the same time the administration proposed a $6.8 billion budget cut to the Department of Housing and Urban Development? Oh. Great choice. Stand-up guy. Really cares about the taxpayers he serves. Making America great again, amirite?

            • Make Lehigh Great Again on

              And, by the way, before you start lecturing me on knowing nothing about the Constitution, I’ll remind you that God doesn’t belong in the public square. The first amendment to the Constitution prohibits the government from establishing a state religion or otherwise endorsing the institution of religion, boo boo. Then again, this president cannot be bothered to learn what the Constitution says. In Sam Nunberg’s words: “I got as far as the Fourth Amendment before [Trump’s] finger is pulling down on his lip and his eyes are rolling back in his head.”

              • you mock what you don’t understand. i have so much to say, but this isn’t the place to engage with you in a lengthy debate. regardless of our disagreements, i wish you well and pray that you will someday understand the nature of God and who He is. you would do well to study the history of Christianity in the founding of our country and also in the role of the founding of Lehigh. warm regards

                • Make Lehigh Great Again on

                  Lehigh gave up its Episcopalian affiliation in….wait for it…1897. Lehigh is a non-sectarian institution. Don’t try to school me on Lehigh history. I’ll crush you every time.

          • Current Student on

            Trump IS a successful conservative. He has a 56% approval rating (, Hilary had shady ties to Saudi Arabia (, she can’t be trusted to run a clean campaign (, she’s protecting Bill who has been accused of sexual assault by several women (, she defends a man who lied under oath, I’m curious how Trump lacks empathy in the face of the school shooting (please show me a reference and not just something you repeated from CNN), his incessant need to Tweet has NOT nearly launched us into a nuclear conflict with North Korea (you realize no one is going to end the world because of a few words, right? Only a leftist would do that), and America has finally nutted up on the global stage. How is he making America great again? By telling the establishment that their idea of a political candidate is wrong and America won’t be pulling our own weight plus that of undeveloped countries.

      • It says, as an institution, that Lehigh disrespects the probable 50% of alumni that voted for Trump. It says that Lehigh, as an institution, is narrow minded and intolerant of other perspectives.

        • Make Lehigh Great Again on

          If we’re offering statistics, let’s be accurate. At most, Lehigh is disrespecting 46.1% of its alumni. Remember 46.1%? That’s the percentage of the popular vote Trump won. In other words, SAD.

        • PB Lehigh Alum on

          Yes, then the University will be able to cut back on the total faculty size and payroll expenses commensurate with the reduction in alumni contributions that will undoubtedly occur. You should all be thankful for DT vs HRC in the WH.

        • Robert Davenport on

          It says at least 63% of those faculty eligible to vote are liberal. Are you sure the faculty thought anything about the alumni in considering their vote?

          “It says that Lehigh, as an institution, is narrow minded and intolerant of other perspectives.” That seems to be extreme although the liberal faculty is indicative of the change from Engineer to Mountain Hawk.

          Reading the posts shows that both Liberal and Conservative Mountain Hawks have sharp talons.

  2. Dyane Hatfield on

    All of you are very low bred garbage. This was rotally uncalled for.
    Whatever was your problem he sure dont need some talk degree.

    • Oscar the Grouch on

      If by low bred garbage you mean a university ranked 46th in the nation, with a 95% post-graduation job placement rate, that has pledged to meet 100% of demonstrated student financial need, then call me Oscar the Grouch! It’s up to us, not Trump’s cesspool of MAGA supporters, to say what we stand for as a community and an institution.

      And, by the way, if Trump was such a great president, he wouldn’t have a 35% approval rating, a collusion investigation against him, 16 women who have accused him of sexual assault, an army of white supremacists stumping for him, a White House that’s hemorrhaging unethical and criminal staff….Shall I continue?

      • Except those stats are generated by alumni and parents of students like myself , most of whom object to faculty acting out a tantrum and injecting their personal political beliefs into what’s supposed to be an institution of higher learning.

        Congratulations. This is the first year I won’t be making a donation to Lehigh after having done so for 46 years.

    • Amy Charles '89 on

      Yup. Years ago.

      If you think that vote’s ridiculous, you oughta see the last general election. Only about 140m out of 230m eligible voters turned out.

      I’d like some higher-grade trolls, please.

      • In fact, I would imagine Lehigh rescinding Bill Cosby’s honorary degree played a role in many faculty members’ votes. Since Lehigh moved to revoke Cosby’s honorary degree on the basis of not-yet legally proven allegations, then this standard should be applied uniformly.

        • I agree. I particularly like Professor Anderson’s proposal that, if we’re reviewing one, let’s review all. I definitely support revoking Donald Trump’s degree, but we might as well take a look at the others while we’re having this conversation.

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    • Amy Charles '89 on

      Leave trollery to the pros, man. You forgot to misspell anything, capitalize randomly, use extra punctuation, derail entirely mid-sentence, any of that good stuff. Look at Ms Hatfield up there: that’s how you do it.

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  15. Robert Davenport on

    Breaking News: President Trump sets up a Commission to investigate voter fraud in the Lehigh Faculty Honorary Degree Revocation Vote. More news, Hawks Engi and Neer refuse to return home on Lehigh campus due to snowflakes on nest.

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  18. Basically the Lehigh faculty is saying they don’t give a damn about the opinion of the 50% or more of Lehigh alums who likely voted for Trump. This is very divisive to the Lehigh community and I hope the University sees a ‘Yuge decline in alumni donations as a result.

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  20. Class of 89 Grad on

    A petulant, juvenile, virtue-signaling, temper tantrum. That is what this looks like to this Class of ’89 graduate.

    I have a better idea. Why don’t you stop conferring honorary degrees altogether? Since the individuals being honored by these degrees have presumably accomplished enough to warrant the “honor” it’s unlikely any of them need further approval or affirmation from Lehigh.

    Conferring these degrees is like the academy awards; a narcissistic celebration of the academy itself. Get over yourselves and start teaching the students to focus on things that matter.

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  24. Amy Charles '89 on

    Is it me, or is there something telemarketer-script in how the trolls do? Virtue-signalling, tenper-tantrum, Christianity, great president — there’s no personal touch in these things. You imagine the smarter ones suffering, like MFA students working for Groupon.

    Confidential to trolls: there’s an Andropov-quality staleness already in your work. And you know how that went last time. Also, Fake Lehigh Alum, the idiom’s not “cutting block”. A little quality control.

    • Fake Alum? Do you need my transcript? Perhaps the student organizations I was in…where in Dravo I lived my freshman year. I find it ironic that you name call somebody you disagree with and then proceed to tell us we’re throwing a temper-tantrum. Perhaps you’ve seen the silencing of conservative voices all across college campuses by those creating temper-tantrums. Civil discourse is a necessity that is slowing being eroded away. We need to engage in discussions rather than have knee-jerk reactions to everything with our 24-7 access to media.

      • Amy Charles '89 on

        Your reading comprehension leaves something to be desired, Brad. Give that stuff about the tantrums another go.

        And thanks for reminding me that I left “conservative voices silenced on campuses across America” off the troll-farm bingo card. Great thing is that every time that flag gets waved, liberals at all these campuses look at each other and wonder where these universities might be, because they sound like they’d be awfully relaxing to visit. We’re the ones who live in academia, and uh…guy down the hall from me has a massive flag display topped by a Jesus portrait, and nobody says boo or will do, even though by university rules about being considerate to others we probably could. Real live Republicans come to speak. Students can and do voice right-wing views, and are often as impervious to facts as Naderite students were long ago. There are libertarian, conservative, Christian-paranoid-right, and even downright fascist groups on campuses all over the country, not to mention the random bible-shouters. Though since Fred Phelps died we don’t get the Westboro crew shouting perverted and ungrammatical stuff at the students they’ve decided are gay whores and fornicators and whatnot.

        Anyway. I suspect that not too many people making the claim actually spend much time on college campuses, let alone work there. Oh, though there was a state rep here who was heavy into that line. Turned out his frat got busted up because after years’ worth of infractions they had a last-straw incident with t-shirts full of “lazy Mexicans” slurs. He didn’t actually finish college (and lied about his credentials), but maintained that “liberal professors” had it in for his fine upstanding conservative self, as though they came to class jackbooted and armed with duct tape, stifling his earnest and highbrow Buckleyite debate. He was less anxious to talk about his hi-larious racist antics when those came to light.

        • if we can’t agree on what is reality and truth, then the point of debate with one another is pointless. and westboro baptist is a disgrace. while i disagree with the LGBTQ+ agenda, which is being forced as normality to the rest of the world, speaking truth in love should be done respectfully. based on our worldviews, i would assume that there is much about life we would disagree on. if we had met one another in person without knowing our politics, we would probably get along just fine. this is the downside to an debate from behind a computer screen. there is no personal knowledge of one another and it’s much easier to attack each other’s beliefs. so i will leave you with a “good day” and agree to disagree. i hope the board of trustees will make the correct decision. but if it doesn’t align with what i believe, the world will still move on, and i will advocate other colleges for my family and friends. i wish you well.

  25. If this action was non political you should have done this years ago. This shows why I would not want an honority degree. Things that have been quiet would be dug up and have nothing to do with how I have evolved.

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  27. Class of 89 Grad on


    Just because someone has an opinion different from yours, doesn’t make them a Russian troll. And that excuse didn’t fly with Hilary either.

    I lived in lower centennials my freshman year and since it appears we are the same year, you and I both know what happened in the spring of 86 down there. Tragic.

    Hopefully that’s specific in personal enough for you.

    I prefer to remain anonymous because people who don’t tow the leftist line these days tend to lose friends and business.

    • Amy Charles '89 on

      There’s a whole world of people who disagree with me but don’t look like trolls; they have their own voices and tend not to have posts made up of strung-together propaganda nuggets. (Like, for instance, this thing about losing friends and business. Unless you’re in people’s faces shouting MAGA at them, or sounding like you find the idea of wearing a brown shirt interesting, or essentially denying other people’s rights to extant civil rights, 50-year-olds are leaving you alone.) They also tend to write better and more idiomatically than Brad up there does. I have to tell you, though: the fact that both your average online Trump supporter and your average troll-farm employee write so badly does make the disambiguation a little tough sometimes. I mean look at your own post:

      “…specific in personal” – no. “Specific and personal.”

      “tow the line” – no. “Toe the line.”

      “Hilary” – no. “Hillary.”

      Or the one right above you: “honority degree”. Honority degree? Not a word in English, honority.

      If you guys are for real, you sure didn’t get your tuition’s worth while you were at Lehigh. Not if you came out writing like that. At this point, though, my default is “meh, probably troll.”

  28. Dear Professors:
    Congratulations on creating an environment where NO conservative student will feel comfortable voicing an opinion in your class or on campus. You have only cemented the lack of open debate and dialogue at this University in favor of your echo chamber called MSNBC. Secondly, you just alienated at least half of the potential donors as Lehigh embarks on a $1 billion Fundraiser. Good luck trying to get donations from people that voted for Trump (Like it or not, President Trump won Pennsylvania and the electoral vote in the election).

    Like most of the hysterical liberal media and Hollywood elites, you simply cannot understand why anyone could have voted for him. Is he my favorite person? Of course not. But what politician is? Was Bill Clinton a better person when he had sex with a 21 year old in the Oval Office and then lied about it (remember – he was disbarred for perjury). I could go on and on about politicians from both sides of the aisle. Most politicians are flawed.

    So lets focus on the policies. Americans voted for his policies. Polices like America First, Fair Trade (have you ever seen a Ford in Japan – no), enforcing borders, tax reform to make our country competitive with the rest of the world, infrastructure spending and regulatory reform. You work in Bethlehem Pennsylvania. Americans from cities like this have been left behind and forgotten for 30 years.

    You do not teach at Cal Berkley. You teach at Lehigh. Understand the history and the student body. You have done nothing but weaken the finances of the University and further squashed debate in your classroom from anyone that would dare support any of the policies that won the presidential election.

    My Challenge – I challenge the Board of Trustees to institute a new policy. The policy would be if any student feels intimidated or threatened by a professor over the expression of their views in class, they can file a formal charge of intimidation that would be heard by the Board. Any finding of intimidation by the Board would result in the loss of tenure and termination from employment. I challenge to Board of Trustees to implement this policy. If the Board really wanted to improve the education at Lehigh, they need to stop the bullying and intimidation by these professors! The professors have all the power over students (GRADES). Unbridled power has led to Tyranny! Balance to their power needs to occur!

    • Nice letter “Alum” … You wrote “Americans from cities like this have been left behind and forgotten for 30 years.” Actually, it is more like 45 or 50 years. …

      And I like your suggestion of balance, of keeping professors honest and relatively unbiased. It has been 30 years for me, but I never had any political or philosophical contentions w. my professors, yet things can change….

      Yet we are getting off subject to a degree.

  29. Stick to what you do best, Lehigh, which is to give your students a great education. By rescinding President Trump’s honorary degree you alienate half of your students, their parents, and alumni and cave to the liberal/resist/bot rent-a-mob which will do anything to bring this man down. I’ll bet most of the 30,000 who signed that petition have nothing to do with Lehigh. All of you students who will have good jobs, higher salaries and pay fewer taxes in a booming economy will thank him in the future. Just tune out all the noise.

  30. I don’t believe revoking Mr. Donald J. Trump’s honorary degree is at all ethical, or even wise. Firstly, although Mr. Trump has evidently committed numerous lewd and compromising acts, and had spoken indecently, he is not guilty of egregious error or wanton criminal conduct such as Bill Cosby has been accused of (rape).

    We are not a Court of Law here, yet we really do not have to be… The evidence against Cosby was quite strong. I am not apprised of the degree status here, yet to withdraw Cosby’s honorary degree under the circumstances of “egregious, wanton error or high criminal conduct” appears to be justified.

    Mr. D. J. Trump actions fails this… He has not committed anything of this sort, nor has he been so accused.

    A further issue is that Mr. Trump can indeed speak with slang, even with vulgar and obscene words… Yes this is unfortunate, especially from a President, but it is little justification in itself, or in combination with other reasons, to provide good cause for rescinding a degree.

    A final issue is that, honorary degree or not, Mr. Trump is Lehigh family. His older brother Fred graduated from Lehigh, and that therefore this is a reason to treat Mr. Trump with some degree of deference.

    I therefore cannot really understand this push to rescind Mr. Trump’s degree. Perhaps it stems from political motives, or of being upset that liberal lion Bill Cosby had his revoked, and so now a return is due? This is not good reasoning. And what of the repercussions of revoking? Might Trump, now on a national stage, say, in his coarse manner, that he ‘cares nothing for Lehigh’, and that the whole thing ‘is a joke anyway’, or worse..?

    He is now President, and we should be very careful with what we say and do here, as it will duly reflect back. If we are to rescind, I say we had better be well justified, and that it rather not be the case that we want so to vote because we dislike him a lot…

    — John G. Lewis ’90

  31. David Donnelly 1987 on

    The Board must ensure that the Lehigh faculty are held to the same standard as they wish to hold honorary degree holders. If a faculty member is accused of sexual misconduct, says something inflammatory, or says or does something that offends another member of the university community, the Board must immediately seek to remove them from their chair. After all, honorary degree holders have minimal or no direct impact on the Lehigh community, and faculty members have a large direct impact. If the faculty believe that their version of virtue is this important, then they should be held to it.

    It is a shame that so many Lehigh professors think so contemptuously of the half of the US voting population that supported (and probably still supports) the current President. Lehigh used to have a real-world orientation and was more tolerant of diverse viewpoints (we had many rough debates back in the day), and that was something that helped our graduates succeed. In the 1980s we paid no attention to honorary degrees awarded in the 1950s. I wonder how the current crop of undergraduates, groomed by their professors to try to cleanse their history, insist others live up to a virtuous standard to which they will not be held, and taught to detest so many of their fellow citizens, will perform once they leave the protected life.

    • Amy Charles '89 on

      David, back when we were there Ethan Felson had to threaten to sue Lehigh, and mean it, to get admin to stop discriminating quite as hard as it did against gay students. And he had to get Hugh Flescher to back him up just to get into the rooms. And the frats still had violent, threatening public messages for him. And the student body and admin wanted Jeanne Clery’s mom to stfu and go away and stop “making Lehigh look bad”; instead she put through the single most useful piece of campus anti-violence legislation we have today. And there was no progressivism to speak of. And the few Latina students kept getting told to do a better job on the bathrooms. What rough debates are you talking about? Ecru resume paper v. white?

      Possibly the most remarkable thing I saw the whole time there was Jesse Jackson getting through far enough to make a whole Packer Chapel’s worth of Lehigh students stop looking so self-satisfied for maybe a whole ten minutes. Unprecedented.

      University admins are generally conservative and narrow, but you hope for a student body and faculty with some leaven in it. Astonishingly, that seems to be coming around at Lehigh now, just a little. I think that’s demographics talking more than anything else, but I’ll take it, baby, I’ll take it. And yeah, they’re paying attention to more than career-fair dates. Good.

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