UMass urged to take back Mugabe degree

May 12, 2008 at 4:55 PM

AMHERST, Mass., May 12 (UPI) -- A Massachusetts lawmaker called on one of the state's universities to take back an honorary degree given to Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.

Rep. Kevin Murphy, who is the state House chairman of the Legislature's Joint Committee on Higher Education, said the embattled African leader no longer deserves the degree that was presented to him in 1986 by the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

"It is reprehensible that Robert Mugabe enjoys the same honor our university bestowed upon luminaries such as Nelson Mandela, Kofi Annan and Toni Morrison," Murphy said in a May 9 letter to the school's president.

Mugabe has been hanging on to power in Zimbabwe following a disputed election that he is believed to have lost.

A university spokesman told The Boston Globe Monday that while the school had never rescinded an honorary degree before, the board of trustees would consider Murphy's idea with "an open mind."

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