The embattled comedian says his resignation is "in the best interests of the university and its students"

Credit: Todd Williamson/Invision/AP

Bill Cosby announced Monday he has stepped down from the board of trustees at his beloved Temple University.

“I have always been proud of my association with Temple University,” Cosby said in a statement released through the Philadelphia school.

“I have always wanted to do what would be in the best interests of the university and its students,” he said. “As a result, I have tendered my resignation from the Temple University Board of Trustees.”

Cosby had been a board member for 32 years.

Temple released its own response in the same statement.

“The Board of Trustees accepts Dr. Cosby’s resignation from the board and thanks him for his service to the university,” the statement said.

Temple is the latest – and undoubtedly one of the most personally devastating – blows for Cosby, 77, in the wake of renewed publicity about drugging and sexual assault allegations against him.

Cosby has been a staunch and visible supporter of the college through the years, often wearing Temple sweatshirts in public. He and his wife Camille have donated money and even have a scholarship named for them. Cosby attended the university but did not graduate.

Cosby has spoken at many graduations – most recently last May – and in August, Temple hosted his induction into the Writers Guild of America.

Patrick O’Connor, one of Cosby’s attorneys who represented him in former Temple employee Andrea Constand’s 2005 lawsuit against him and the current chairman of Temple’s board of trustees, told Reuters Cosby called him Monday to resign.

“He didn’t want his personal issue to detract from his service to Temple,” O’Connor told Reuters. “He was a great trustee. I thanked him for his service.”

Temple has been under pressure to distance itself from Cosby.

On Nov. 21, Temple alumna Kerry Potter McCormick, a Manhattan attorney, started a petition calling on Temple to dump Cosby from its board.

“It’s time for Temple University to sever its ties with this man,” she wrote. “Temple should not be the last organization to end its relationship with Bill Cosby – it should have happened in 2005 when the allegations against him first began to surface.”

McCormick says she is pleased with the decision.

“I hope that, going forward, Temple will make the right decisions for its community,” she tells PEOPLE.

Cosby was in the midst of a comedy tour when the scandal resurfaced. He is scheduled for two performances in Tarrytown, New York, on Dec. 6 but is offering refunds to the sold-out shows, according to the The Journal News of Westchester County. So far, one in three ticketholders have accepted the offer, according to the paper.

Meanwhile, Cosby has the staunch support of his wife, Camille, and their family.

“His family is very close and they support him,” a source close to the family tells PEOPLE. “They’ve closed ranks.”

With reporting by ELIZABETH LEONARD