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OU professor to leave class, take training after using N-word

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OU professor apologizes for using racial slur OU professor allegedly uses racial slur in class

Gaylord Hall [Oklahoman archives]
Gaylord Hall [Oklahoman archives]

NORMAN — A University of Oklahoma professor who used the N-word during a lecture will not teach his journalism class for the rest of the semester.

Professor Peter Gade will take OU's program in culturally competent communication over the next month, according to a statement from Ed Kelley, dean of the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Gade also has agreed to meet one-on-one with the university's Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in sessions over the spring semester. All faculty and staff of Gaylord College will take similar training.

Gade's compensation will remain the same, as he has other responsibilities in the college, according to information from Kelley. The university will not incur any extra costs for another faculty member to take over his class.

"It's been a challenging week at Gaylord College and OU, but also a week of learning and inspiration from our students," Kelley said in his statement. "Our first priority is to ensure an exceptional educational experience for all of them."

Kelley notified Gade's class of the changes on Friday, a day after the students met with leadership from Gaylord College and the OU administration. Many of the students requested Gade be replaced with another professor for the rest of the semester. Some refused to return to the class if Gade remained.

Gade was teaching a Journalism, Ethics and Democracy class on Tuesday when he said the full N-word while complaining about the term "boomer." The professor said the phrase "OK, boomer," which young people use to mock older generations, was similarly offensive as the racial slur.

Gade apologized to his students in an email Tuesday evening.

“I realize the word was hurtful and infuses the racial divisions of our country, past and present,” Gade said in the email, which students shared with the OU Daily newspaper. “Use of the word is inappropriate in any — especially educational — settings. I offer my deepest and most sincere apologies. In the coming weeks, I will strive to show you that I am an instructor and teacher who is trustworthy and respectful of all. Please give me that opportunity.”

Associate Dean David Craig will oversee instruction of the class for the remainder of the semester. The class is considered a senior capstone course, which all journalism students must take to graduate.

"This moment provides a point of reflection and opportunity for growth for the college as a whole," Kelley said.

OU offers optional training on diversity and inclusion. A university spokeswoman said OU is looking into a new model that will make some of the training a requirement.

Nuria Martinez-Keel

Nuria Martinez-Keel joined The Oklahoman in 2019. She found a home at the newspaper while interning in summer 2016 and 2017. Nuria returned to The Oklahoman for a third time after working a year and a half at the Sedalia Democrat in Sedalia,... Read more ›

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