Posted on May 29, 2014
Update on June 4, 2014
Although Yale administrators recently met with alumni, no progress was made to revoke Schmidheiny’s degree. ADAO looks forward to continuing to make asbestos victims’ voices heard in the Fall when students and faculty return to campus.
Stephan Schmidheiny was found guilty of willful failure to warn and protect workers, their families, and residents living nearby from the dangers of asbestos. In 2012, he was sentenced to 16 years in prison and fined for interim damages by an Italian criminal court. His case, now in the appeal process, represents the first time that executive-owners of a company that manufactured and produced asbestos were convicted of creating an environmental disaster. These are not the actions of an innocent man deserving of Yale University’s highest praise. I cannot imagine that Yale would honor Schmidheiny today, knowing what we know now about his history. Yet, Yale has energetically resisted pleas from the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) and many others, that his honorary degree be rescinded. On May 28, Yale alumni raised their objections to his honorary degree in the article “Alumni Ask Yale to revoke honorary degree.”
ADAO recently received a letter from Kimberly Goff-Crews, Secretary of Yale University, refusing our request to meet with her. She implies that ADAO should be familiar with her unchanged explanation of Yale’s position – a document we have never seen. ADAO is the largest independent asbestos victims’ organization in the U.S. We represent only the voices of the victims, and Yale is not allowing those voices to be heard. We urge Ms. Goff-Crews to reconsider.
Together, change is possible.