Letter to the Editor: Rescinding Trump’s honorary degree


Richard Weisman is a professor emeritus of water resources engineering in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He also serves as a faculty mentor in the Martindale Center for the Study of Private Enterprise. He can be reached at [email protected]. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author alone. 

Photo courtesy of Richard Weisman

It is perhaps fitting for me to have my last word about the honorary degree that our University Board of Trustees bestowed on Donald J. Trump because I was the first to raise the issue in February of 2016. I thank the Board of Trustees for rescinding it. The decision has reinvigorated a pride in Lehigh for thousands. However, I offer two regrets:

  1. The decision took too long and it took a Trump-sponsored assault on our Nation’s Capitol to get the Board of Trustees to make this decision.
  2. The Board offered no reason for rescinding the degree.

Point number two is of particular concern for an educational institution. Just as the Board did when they refused to rescind the degree a few times over the past four years by offering an unexplained “no action”, the Board rescinded Trump’s degree without explanation. The Board is comprised of women and men who are highly educated and successful in their fields of endeavor. I cannot imagine that they have gotten through their academic and professional lives without having to explain the reasons for their decisions and actions. They are people who have been held accountable and, undoubtedly, have held others accountable.

Hopefully, these are people who understand the great value of debate and discussion. Why deprive Lehigh stakeholders of their thought process, both when they took “no action” and, now, when they did? Are they afraid to offend? Who are they afraid of offending and why?

Universities are institutions of inquiry and debate whose stakeholders want to know reasons and to discuss the validity of those reasons. In the future, I hope the Board of Trustees will act in a way that contributes to the very mission of great universities by trusting in its stakeholders and encouraging learning.

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1 Comment

  1. Bruce Haines ‘67 on

    This was a biased article that fails to reflect the majority of Lehigh alums that disagree vehemently with this BOT decision.

    Trump will go down as one of the best presidents in American history for foreign policy accomplishments, economic growth & support for American minority improvement.

    He has neutralized China’s trade abuses to bring back good paying American jobs lost during the past 2 decades. He negotiated a Middle East peace deal for Israel that eluded every American President for decades.

    Labeling Trump & his followers as racist is right out of the Saul Alinsky model embraced by University faculty to destroy American Capitalism The BOT finally caved to the Marxist left agenda that has transformed Lehigh into another left wing liberal arts bastion that no longer represents the values of its traditional alumni base.

    This is no longer the Lehigh that was at one time a bastion for creating Captains of American Business Leadership.

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