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The chancellor at Purdue University Northwest apologized Wednesday for an “offensive and insensitive” comment he made when he momentarily spoke gibberish and then tied it to the Asian community during a commencement ceremony over the weekend.

Chancellor Thomas Keon made his off-the-cuff comment in response to remarks from keynote speaker Jim Dedelow who talked about using fake language to entertain his new granddaughter, the Chicago Tribune reported.  

At one point, Dedelow, a radio host, used his mock language on a baby crying in the audience during his speech.

When Dedelow was done and Keon got back up to the podium, the shocking moment happened that has been shared across social media.

“Well, all I can say is,” Keon said before he launched into his own nonsensical language that appeared to mock Asian languages. “That’s sort of my Asian version of his …” before his voice trailed off and he changed subjects.

“I made a comment that was offensive and insensitive,” Keon said in a statement. “I am truly sorry for my unplanned, off-the-cuff response to another speaker, as my words have caused confusion, pain, and anger.”

Purdue University Northwest Chancellor Thomas Keon apologized for the shocking and offensive remarks he made over the weekend.
Purdue University Northwest Chancellor Thomas Keon apologized for the shocking and offensive remarks he made over the weekend.
Purdue University Northwest

Keon in his apology also detailed efforts the university has made to improve diversity and equity while welcoming students and staff from various cultural backgrounds.

“We are all human. I made a mistake, and I assure you I did not intend to be hurtful and my comments do not reflect my personal or our institutional values,” Keon also said, vowing to learn from the incident. 

The campus is located in northwest Indiana.
The campus is located in northwest Indiana.
Getty Images

It appears Keon will keep his position with the university located in northwest Indiana which has around 7,200 undergraduates.

A spokesperson for Purdue University in West Lafayette told the Tribune the Board of Trustees accepted Keon’s mea culpa.

“The Purdue University Board of Trustees, which oversees all campuses in the Purdue system, is aware of the comments made by Chancellor Keon during December 2022 commencement at Purdue Northwest and has accepted his apology,” the spokesperson told the newspaper. 



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