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Community Advocacy Organization

Purdue NW Chancellor apologizes after bizarre Asian language impression on stage at commencement

Photo courtesy of Chicago Tribune, Dec. 2022

Thomas L. Keon, Purdue Northwest Chancellor in Indiana apologizes after displaying seemingly racist rhetoric on stage.

Keon issued the formal apology Wednesday after he was criticized for mocking Asian languages in an apparent impression, saying the made-up sounds were some type of “Asian version” of a previous speech, at the event for the University's summer and fall graduates. 

He responds to backlash from his bizarre remarks at graduation, “On Saturday, December 10, during one of our two PNW Commencement ceremonies, I made a comment that was offensive and insensitive,” Keon wrote in a statement Wednesday. “I am truly sorry for my unplanned, off-the-cuff response to another speaker, as my words have caused confusion, pain, and anger.” 

Interestingly enough, Keon received the Giving Back Award in 2016 for “commitment to diversity and inclusion,” according to the magazine Insight Into Diversity. This publication issued the award to him.

Purdue University Northwest was also ranked in the top 20 Midwest regional universities for campus ethnic diversity by U.S. News & World Report for the 2022-2023 school year.

After publícally vowing to directing more diversity initiatives to specifically gain insight and understanding of issues in the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.

Keon wrote, "I will learn from this and assure you that Purdue Northwest and I will take action to prevent such missteps from occurring in the future."

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