Years after it was first discussed, the Lehigh University Board of Trustees voted Thursday to rescind the honorary degree the school awarded Donald Trump in 1988.
The decision to rescind Trump’s degree came amid what political and legal analysts are calling a disastrous week for the president, who admitted Thursday in a tweeted video statement that he had lost the November election to President-elect Joe Biden.
Many Trump supporters continue to believe his repeated false claims that the election was stolen from him via widespread fraud; baseless allegations that have been debunked dozens of times in United States courts and at the state level in recountings of ballots.
Trump’s concession came only after his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol Wednesday in an insurrection whose aim was to disrupt the certification of the Electoral College votes confirming Biden’s presidency. Biden received 306 Electoral votes to Trump’s 232.
Five people died as a result of the violent riot that ensued inside and around the building, as a relatively small Capitol Police force was quickly overwhelmed. One officer with the unit died Thursday from injuries he suffered trying to protect the Capitol and its occupants; a woman from California was shot and killed by another officer as she attempted to break through a window inside the building; and three other participants–including a Pennsylvania man–died due to medical emergencies suffered at the scene.
Immediately before the riot began, Trump had addressed his supporters who had gathered in a nearby park and encouraged them to march on the Capitol just as the counting of each state’s Electoral College votes was getting under way.
In the aftermath of the attack by the pro-Trump group, many Democrats and some Republicans in Congress called for Vice President Mike Pence and the Cabinet to use the 25th Amendment of the Constitution to declare Trump unfit and remove him from office for the remainder of his term, which is set to end Jan. 20 with Biden’s inauguration.
Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also confirmed that she is circulating articles of impeachment against Trump, although many legal experts have said it is unlikely that an impeachment proceeding–which typically lasts months–could be completed by Jan. 20.
Many reactions to Lehigh’s two-sentence announcement about the rescindment–which was publicized on the university’s Facebook page–were supportive of the decision, but some commenters criticized the school for failing to strip Trump of his degree sooner.
“You’ve done right by your students, future students and alumni with this decision,” commented Mark Detterline on the page. “Thank you, Lehigh!”
Said Danielle Haines, “(I’m) glad this was done, but let’s get real–you waited until it was politically convenient to do this. Your faculty, staff, students, and alumni have been begging for this for years!”
“For once, I would like to see my alma mater acting proactively,” she added. “I am so tired of hearing about Lehigh in the news in a negative light. The community deserves so much better.”
In February 2018, a majority of Lehigh’s faculty voted to rescind Trump’s honorary degree, however the Board of Trustees at that time refused to follow suit.
A number of Saucon Valley residents are employed by the Bethlehem university.
The Brown & White reported then that 357 of 472 eligible faculty members participated in the vote, with 83 percent of those who participated voting in favor of rescindment.
In the same story, it was noted that in 2017 the school’s board of trustees voted to take “no action” on a petition to rescind Trump’s degree that had received 30,000 signatures.
The current members of the Lehigh University Board of Trustees (not including honorary, ex officio and trustees emeritus) are as follows: Kevin L. Clayton ’84, chairman; Maria L. Chrin ’87, vice chair; Philip B. Sheibley ’81, vice chair; Frank A. Roth, corporate secretary; David L. Hammer, treasurer; Lia Iacocca Assad; Craig Benson ’85; Jeffrey Bosland ’88; Robert Buckheit III ’09; Pat Fischer ’97; Vincent A. Forlenza Jr. ’75; Joseph J. Helble ’82; Jordan Hitch ’88; Anne R. Kline ’81; Mary T. Kush ’88; Mark V. Mactas ’74; James R. Maida ’85; Lauren M. Manduke ’05; Deidre M. Martin ’06; Peter Morales ’82; Kendall B. O’Brien ’84; Edward Ramos ’89; Michele Scaringella ’90; Sarat Sethi ’92; Jill Triani ’94; Richard Verma ’90; Frank E. “Ted” Walsh III ’88; Amy Weaver; and Mark R. Yeager ’81.
Fallout from the U.S. Capitol insurrection isn’t only impacting Trump himself.
A large-scale effort is under way by the FBI and other law enforcement organizations to identify the rioters who entered the Capitol building and in many cases damaged or defiled federal property or assaulted police officers. Since many of the participants in the failed coup livestreamed themselves while it was unfolding, and due to the number of journalists who were at the Capitol to cover the Electoral College certification process, copious amounts of photographic and video evidence exist for these officials to pore over as part of the criminal investigations into what happened.
On Thursday, the Allentown School District announced that it had suspended one of its teachers pending the outcome of an internal investigation, after information surfaced connecting him to the Jan. 6 storming of Capitol Hill.
Many Saucon Source readers condemned the school district for removing the teacher on Facebook, with some saying the unnamed individual should consider suing the district.
Details that might offer some insight into the teacher’s level of involvement in the deadly protest-turned-riot, if any, have not yet been made public, and it was not clear how long the investigation by the district was likely to take.