Casinos and Gaming

UPenn to remove Steve Wynn's name from outdoor plaza, revoke his honorary degree

Key Points
  • The University of Pennsylvania said Thursday it would remove Wynn Resorts CEO Steve Wynn's name from a scholarship fund and plaza.
  • The Ivy League school also announced it would revoke the billionaire's honorary degree in the wake of sexual assault allegations against him detailed first by The Wall Street Journal.
  • UPenn's action follows the University of Iowa announcing Wednesday it will remove Wynn's name from a vision research institute.
Steve Wynn shows off the plans for a planned casino during a press conference on March 15, 2016.
Jessica Rinaldi | The Boston Globe | Getty Images

The University of Pennsylvania moved Thursday to sever its ties to Wynn Resorts CEO Steve Wynn, removing the billionaire's name from an outdoor plaza and scholarship fund as well as revoking his honorary degree.

The action by the Ivy League school follows allegations against Wynn that were first reported last Friday by The Wall Street Journal, which said there was a "pattern of sexual misconduct" in the workplace by the casino mogul, as well as a $7.5 million financial settlement paid to a manicurist who allegedly was pressured into having sex with the executive in 2005. Wynn has denied the allegations.

Penn said a group of trustees, alumni and staff was formed to look at the allegations against Wynn and recommend the course of action the university should take. Those recommendations were "unanimously accepted" by the board of trustees and will result in the removal of the name "Wynn Commons," an outdoor plaza named for the casino executive. Also, the university said Wynn's name will be removed from a special scholarship fund that was originally established by a donation from him.

A representative for Wynn said the CEO had no comment.

At the same time, Penn said it is revoking honorary degrees awarded to Wynn as well as to Bill Cosby, who also has faced allegations of sexual assault. Cosby has previously denied allegations from about 60 women who say he drugged and molested them.

"It has been a century since the University of Pennsylvania last revoked an honorary degree, and we do not take that decision — or the decision to remove Mr. Wynn's name from the Commons and from the scholarship fund he created — lightly," Penn president Amy Gutmann and David Cohen, the university's board of trustees chair, said in a statement. "We view these as extraordinary and essentially unique circumstances that call for an immediate, decisive, and clearly ethical response."

The decision by Penn follows the University of Iowa announcing Wednesday it is removing Wynn's name from its Institute for Vision Research. The school named the institute after Wynn back in 2013 after he agreed to donate $25 million toward research to cure rare eye diseases.

Wynn recently resigned from his position as finance chairman of the Republican National Committee. He is being investigated by a special committee of Wynn Resorts' board of directors as well as by several gaming regulators, including in Nevada and Massachusetts.

The board of directors has met and is proceeding with their investigation, said Wynn Resorts spokesman Michael Weaver.