University of Virginia professor apologizes for ‘insensitive’ racial comment

University of Virginia professor apologizes for ‘insensitive’ racial comment
The University of Virginia Rotunda in Charlottesville (Source: WVIR)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - A University of Virginia professor is facing backlash for a racial comment made in class last week.

In a statement shared with his class session, Commerce Professor Jeffrey Leopold apologized and said he was wrong for saying “Africans didn’t know what food meant.”

“I sincerely regret doing so and I am deeply sorry for my actions and my words,” Leopold wrote. “I care deeply about all of my students and the UVA community at-large and I will never forget this judgment error.”

The University’s Organization of African Students said there have been multiple instances of professors making racist comments. It is now calling on the University to increase the standards of the yearly diversity and bias-awareness training.

“There have been multiple instances where faculty members and staff have made ignorant, and inherently racist statements, where the N-word was utilized and minority groups ridiculed and that is unacceptable,” the statement read.

Leopold says he wants to learn from this.

“I hope, in turn, that those whom I have hurt can help me continue to broaden my perspective so that I can do a better job, with greater sensitivity and awareness going forward,” he wrote.

The full statements of both the Organization of African Students (OAS) and Leopold can be seen below. Leopold’s statement was sent to both his class section and the OAS.

Organization of African Students:

Jeffrey Leopold:

I am honored to teach Foundations of Commerce at McIntire, having done so since the spring of 2017. On Thursday, October 22th in my class, I made statements that were both insensitive and offensive. I sincerely regret doing so and I am deeply sorry for my actions and my words.

I care deeply about all of my students and the UVA community at-large and I will never forget this judgment error. Over the past several days, and with counsel from McIntire leadership, I have reflected on my actions. I know that what I said was wrong and I appreciate even more so the great importance and impact of what I say in and out of the classroom. It is clear that I should have been more thoughtful with my comments and I apologize.

I tremendously value the opportunity to spend my time, energy and passion helping the brilliant students at this University fulfill their potential. I have a deep interest and willingness to continue to learn and become a better professor and educator. I hope, in turn, that those whom I have hurt can help me continue to broaden my perspective so that I can do a better job, with greater sensitivity and awareness going forward.

Sincerely,

Professor Leopold

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