HomeCampusPurdue trustees backing NW chancellor despite racist remarks

Purdue trustees backing NW chancellor despite racist remarks

The faculty at Purdue Northwest overwhelmingly cast a no-confidence vote against Chancellor Thomas Keon following his racist remarks at a recent graduation. Despite that, the university’s trustees appear to be resisting calls to fire him.

Lakeshore Republic Radio reports the vote against Keon passed 87 percent to 13 percent.

155 people cast ballots out of 238 eligible voters.

““This is as close to unanimous as it’s going to get, I think,” said Thomas Roach, chair of the PNW faculty senate. “In other words, if everyone who didn’t vote voted confidence, he still would have lost the vote.”

The faculty began distributing ballots Monday night after Keon refused to resign. He apologized after he mocked his “version” of an Asian language during off-the-cuff remarks at a recent graduation on December 10.

“Our Board of Trustees, which oversees the entire Purdue system, including our regional campuses of Purdue Fort Wayne and Purdue Northwest, when made aware of the insensitive and unacceptable remarks made by Chancellor Keon at a Dec. 10 commencement ceremony, asked for an immediate apology,” Purdue University spokesman Tim Doty told the Post-Tribune in an email Tuesday. “Chancellor Keon has provided that apology and his plan to ensure this does not happen again, which you have already seen. Trustees have accepted the apology.”

Doty declined to respond to a question directly about whether the Trustees would ignore the recommendation of the faculty.

Roach said the push for Keon’s resignation is not over.

“If Keon ignores our vote, we will demand that he resign, and if he still doesn’t, we will demand that the Board of Trustees fire him,” Roach said.

The Post Tribune reports one petition launched by a PNW student has gathered more than 6,000 signatures demanding Keon’s resignation. Another from Asian faculty at universities across the country has attracted more than a thousand signatures.

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  1. Almost predictable that the BoT would back
    Purdue president Mitch Daniels and chancellor Tom Keon.

    What is a potential next step?

  2. Students and their families, community citizens, faculty and staff, alums, and donors must be the leaders that the whole Purdue brand has failed to be. Signing petitions is good but not enough. All the above parties owe a moral duty to make the USA an anti-racist society where all its people are treated with dignity. Withhold donations, reject admission, protest, transfer out of all Purdue entities (Purdue Univ., Purdue Univ. Northwest, Purdue University Global). Do whatever will drag the Purdue brand down to its knees financially. That is the only way this racist capitalist brand will behave.

  3. Agree. See Thomas Roach’s letters to the editor (including The NY Times).

    Some people are wondering if Purdue is already a racist institution. If Purdue does nothing, it will surely become known as oasis institution.

    It would be good if more AAPI organizations wrote statements of outrage and had their local media cover their reaction to Purdue.


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