The chancellor of Purdue University Northwest issued an apology on Wednesday for his “offensive and inappropriate” comments at a commencement ceremony, where he briefly spoke incoherently before tying it to the Asian community.
The reply was in response to keynote speaker Jim Dedelow‘s closing remarks, the Chicago Tribune reported. In his speech, Dedelow discussed a made-up language he invented to amuse his newborn granddaughter; at one point, he even used it to quiet a baby in the audience when she cried out during his address.
The startling incident that has gone viral on social media happened after Dedelow finished and Chancellor Thomas Keon climbed back up to the podium.
— Rich Lee (@RichLeePhD) December 13, 2022
“Well, all I can say is,” Keon said before he launched into his own gibberish that appeared to mock Asian languages. “That’s sort of my Asian version of his …” before he broke off and switched to a different subject.
“I made a comment that was offensive and insensitive,” Keon said. “I am truly sorry for my unplanned, off-the-cuff response to another speaker, as my words have caused confusion, pain, and anger.”
In his statement, Keon claimed that he “did not intend to be hurtful,” adding that he would be meeting with representatives of the student government and leading a new diversity program called PNW Respecting Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity to better comprehend and address challenges facing the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.