HomeCampusChancellor apologizes for racist Asian language impression

Chancellor apologizes for racist Asian language impression

Purdue University Northwest’s Chancellor Thomas Keon has apologized for mocking Asian languages while speaking at the university’s winter commencement ceremony.

The ceremony took place on Saturday and a video of Keon’s racist impression went viral on Tuesday.

According to NBC News, right before the incident, radio host James Dedelow spoke to graduates about the importance of free speech. He mentioned a made-up language he used with his family. Then, Keon approached the podicum and said, “Well, all I can say is,” before making several noises. 

“That’s sort of my Asian version of his,” Keon said, laughing. 

Videos of Keon’s racist mockery began to circulate on social media. Asian Americans expressed their shock and disgust that a university chancellor had made the remarks.

“There’s no excuse for this garbage when comes from a kid. But this is coming from the Purdue University Northwest chancellor. And his colleagues found it funny,” Eun Kyung Kim, the deputy White House editor for POLITICO, wrote in a tweet.

The chancellor issued an apology on Wednesday.

“I am truly sorry for my unplanned, off-the-cuff response to another speaker, as my words have caused confusion, pain, and anger,” Keon wrote, according to the Chicago Tribune. “Purdue University Northwest, and I personally, take great pride in being welcoming and inclusive to all people.”

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  1. Randall, It’s this kind of report that makes AsAm News invaluable.

    A college chancellor can make racist remarks and everybody laughs with him? This will be a major test for Purdue…Does Purdue do the right thing on fire this racist or do they just pass out white hoods and robes, one uniform for crackers like this?

  2. Who does this cracker answer to?

    Would be good if many of us emailed his superior or President of Purdue to get his butt fired

  3. I just sent Akemi’s article to the Purdue global Facebook page.

    I’m trying to find the name and contact info for the Purdue president.

    Would be good if many of us could email the Purdue president to ask what he will do about this racist incident from one of his chancellors

  4. Here is contact email for the office of the president at Purdue:
    Contact Office of the President

    I invite you to send me your ideas, concerns, suggestions, or a viewpoint that you’d like to share.

    You may send your comments to [email protected] or send a message to:

    Purdue President
    Hovde Hall, Room 200
    610 Purdue Mall
    West Lafayette, IN 47907-2040

  5. It should not take the clip going viral before issuing an apology. At least Keon’s “apology” started with acknowledging that he was wrong and admitting that his comments were “offensive and insensitive” which is significant. But then 75% of that “apology” was to pat himself and Purdue on the back about diversity efforts. Of course, Purdue University Board of Trustees accepted his apology and let him keep his position because Keon turned it into a marketing opportunity.

    Where is the “apology” from his colleagues or other attendees at the event to condemn what he did or for encouraging his mockery with their laughter?

    But we need to take the high road and not respond with a racist or other offensive approach. The term “cracker” is a racist derogatory term. We can do better.


    December 15, 2022

    Dear Mr. Michael R. Berghoff
    Chair of Board of Trustees
    Purdue University

    This gratuitous use at graduation of mock Asian accent shocks me and it should shock you too. From all people but the chancellor of Purdue. And at anytime but at graduation at Purdue. Worst it is totally made up gibberish and conveys no intellectual message but only encouragement for contempt for Asians. This is exacerbated by the speaker identifying this mockery as his “Asian version.”

    I stand by freedom of speech but sorry to say this intentional insult crosses the pale and must not be allowed to stand. Such contempt is very dangerous as it is infectious as can be verified by the the faces and laughter of the people on stage – they were persuaded at the moment into thinking it was fun and games. It is not – it is hurtful to Asian graduates and students and demeans all who were present especially those who laughed and this misconduct continues to destroy if not meaningfully responded to.

    Purdue University Northwest chancellor under fire for mock Asian accent

    Purdue University Northwest chancellor under fire for mock Asian accent

    Chancellor Thomas L. Keon of Purdue University Northwest (PNW) has stirred outrage online for using a mock Asian…

    While the chancellor has apologized for the terrible misconduct, we believe more meaningful and substantial sanctions are in order. Such racist and contemptuous conduct within the university environment and at graduation call for a termination from the lofty office this man has degraded.

    Please do the right thing and ensure such outrage never again happens at Purdue.

    Respectfully submitted,
    Charleston C. K. Wang, Trustee

  7. Great to see that one Ohio organization has reached out to Purdue to articulate its outrage and demand a tangible action for Purdue.

    Also good to see so many people reacting to Purdue chancellor Keon’s racist action.

    Would be much more effective if we reached out beyond these comments to ourselves and directed our opinions and demand for action to Purdue.

    Email for Purdue president Daniels is: [email protected]


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