POSTED BY MARTIN KICH
In what clearly seems a much bigger deal for Harvey Weinstein’s alma mater than it likely is for Weinstein himself, the University of Buffalo is seeking to have his honorary degree revoked.
Writing for NBC News, Dan Corey has reported the following:
Officials at the University at Buffalo, which is part of the State University of New York (SUNY) system, asked the SUNY board revoke the honorary doctorate of humane letters, which the school bestowed on Weinstein in 2000. Weinstein attended the university from 1969 to 1973.
“The university is well aware of the allegations involving Mr. Weinstein,” university spokesman John DellaContrada said in a statement. “The university has initiated the process, pursuant to the SUNY Board of Trustees policy, for the revocation of a SUNY honorary degree.” , , ,
Only SUNY’s 18-member Board of Trustees can revoke an honorary degree, according to SUNY policy.
The terse university statement on the matter does include the following information not included in Corey’s article:
Harvey Weinstein personally never made a gift to the university.
In 2004 and 2005, Disney, on behalf of Miramax, gave a total of $22,750 to support a media study scholarship at the university. The scholarships were awarded to students in 2005, expending all of the funding from the gift.
The news release on the awarding of the honorary degree, written by Patricia Donovan and available in the University of Buffalo news archive, includes the following rationale for the awarding of the degree as well as some background information on Weinstein’s time as a student at the university:
In nominating him for this honor, Greiner spoke to Weinstein’s “extraordinary boldness, drive and instinctive eye for cutting-edge creative excellence…(that) continues to broaden and diversify the field of American film by providing a niche for provocative and independent films…(and) enlarging the American audience for foreign cinema.”
He noted, “Weinstein’s influence has led to the development of alternative production divisions in large studios and to an expanded definition of the popular film.
“He reshapes the face of the American film industry with each new offering from Miramax,” Greiner said, “and has shown the world that movies have the power to transform lives in unexpected ways long after their audiences depart from the theater.”
Greiner added: “UB will honor Harvey Weinstein not only in recognition of the degree he pursued here 30 years ago, but as a tribute to his extraordinary efforts to broaden the horizons of film audiences everywhere.”
For 20 years, Weinstein has been at the center of a revolution that brought the American film industry into the renewed state of innovation and diversity it enjoys today.
Born in Queens, he attended UB as an English major from 1969-73 and was very active with the school’s independent University Union Activities Board, which funded a broad variety of student activities, including rock concerts.
During that time, he and fellow UB student Horace “Corky” Burger began to produce shows on their own. The first was a hugely successful 1972 Stephen Stills concert that led to the founding of Harvey and Corky Productions, which quickly became a fixture on the Buffalo music scene.
They recruited Weinstein’s brother Bob, then a student SUNY College at Fredonia, as a third partner and the company began to develop into the prototype for Miramax, named after the brothers’ parents, Miriam and Max Weinstein. Miramax opened its offices in 1979 in Buffalo’s old Memorial Auditorium.
The language for revoking an honorary degree, in the SUNY policies on honorary degrees, is fairly concise:
The authority to revoke a previously awarded honorary degree rests with the Board of Trustees of the State University of New York. The Board of Trustees may revoke an honorary degree if, in its judgment, the recipient of the degree has engaged in conduct that: 1) is inconsistent with the mission and/or values of the State University of New York; 2) undermines the accomplishments that were cited as the basis for awarding the honorary degree; or 3) is injurious to the reputation of the State University of New York or any of its constituent campuses. The Board of Trustees’ revocation of an honorary degree must be supported by the Chancellor’s recommendation, made after an evaluation of the necessity for such action using the same procedures articulated in this policy for the selection and nomination of an honorary degree recipient.
The complete article by Dan Corey is available at: https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/harvey-weinstein-s-college-moves-revoke-his-honorary-degree-n809951.
The complete news release by Patricia Donovan is available at: http://www.buffalo.edu/news/releases/2000/09/4875.html.
The complete SUNY policy on the awarding of honorary degrees in available at: http://www.suny.edu/sunypp/documents.cfm?doc_id=150.