NBC News: Purdue’s 1st Asian American president takes office weeks after school official mocks Asian languages onstage
Given Mung Chiang’s historic new role, some have called on him to address Thomas L. Keon’s actions.
By Kimmy Yam/NBC News
Purdue University’s first Asian American president has taken office, weeks after a chancellor in its greater school system was criticized for what many considered to be a racist display onstage during a ceremony.
Mung Chiang, a professor of engineering, began his historic role last week, overseeing the university in addition to other campuses, including Purdue University Northwest (PNW). Chiang’s tenure comes shortly after Thomas L. Keon, chancellor of PNW mocked Asian languages during a winter commencement. Despite growing pressures to step down, Keon, who issued an apology, remains in the role.
Given Chiang’s new role, some have called on him to address Keon’s actions. A post published by the nonprofit Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, written by Emil Guillermo, said such action from Chiang could send a strong message.
“Will he or won’t he rock the boat now? Chiang’s response as president could turn Purdue’s failure to act in 2022 into a new sign of hope in 2023,” the post read. “That would signal a real change in America. The first Asian American president fires the racist chancellor who told a bad Asian joke.”
Keon did not respond to a request for comment. And Chiang directed NBC News to a December statement from the chair of Purdue’s board of trustees, Mike Berghoff, in which he said that, after board members reviewed Keon’s remarks, they determined they were “extremely offensive and insensitive” but did not reflect a pattern of behavior.