PNW board reprimands Keon for comments at commencement • Northwest Indiana Business Magazine
Thomas Keon

PNW board reprimands Keon for comments at commencement

The Purdue Board of Trustees issued a formal reprimand to Chancellor Thomas Keon on Dec. 22 for comments he made during a Dec. 10 commencement.

Thomas Keon
Purdue University Northwest Monday, August 22, 2016, in Indiana. Photography by James C. Svehla

The board concluded that offhand comments “made in poor taste” were unacceptable. However, the trustees also said the “offensive remark does not reflect a pattern of behavior or a system of beliefs” by Keon. The board also said another similar incident could result in more action by the board, including dismissal.

Keon apologized Dec. 14 in a statement issued by the university for the “off-the-cuff response to another speaker” that was “offensive and insensitive.”

“We are all human,” he said. “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.”

He also cited a new initiative started in the fall, PNW Respecting Inclusion, Diversity and Equity. The PRIDE Team initiative's mission is to create an atmosphere of respect and culture for all students, according to the PNW website.

“Purdue University Northwest, and I personally, take great pride in being welcoming and inclusive to all people,” he said.

However, the Executive Committee of the Purdue Northwest Faculty Senate, unanimously called for Keon's resignation in a Dec. 16 decision in light of the insulting comments made at the Dec. 10 commencement, citing “his inexcusable behavior (that) caused national and international outrage.”

The comments can be heard about 1:10 in a video of the morning commencement posted on the PNW YouTube channel.


  • Heather Pfundstein

    Heather Pfundstein is the managing editor of Northwest Indiana Business Magazine and She is an award-winning journalist with more than 25 years of experience in Northwest Indiana and northern Illinois newsrooms. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from Southern Illinois University. She has been part of the magazine's team since 2018.

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