Duquesne University Professor Gary Shank was put on paid leave this week after a video circulated of him saying a racial slur during an online lecture.
“Effective yesterday, Friday, September 11, that faculty member in the video, education professor Gary Shank, is on paid leave, pending investigation,” the university said in a statement to NBC News.
In the video shared online, Shank tells his students it’s OK to use the “n-word” during a certain class discussion “because we’re using it in a pedagogical sense.”
He went on to say it several times himself, stating that the word has fallen out of favor since his youth.
Following the lecture, the Duquesne Duke, a the school’s student newspaper, obtained a Sept. 9 email that Shank sent to his students in his educational psychology class with the subject line, “My most sincere apology.”
In the email, according to the school paper, Shank apologized for using the “term” in class, saying that it was “deeply troubling.”
“As part of my pedagogy this morning I used a term that I now realize was deeply troubling to the class. It was not my intent to do so, but I must take responsibility for the impact of my words and teaching,” Shank wrote. “As a consequence, I am offering each and every one of you my most sincere apology and my guarantee that I will never cross this line again in our class.
“I consider my students to be like part of my family and so this is doubly troubling to me to have had this impact. If you would like to reach out personally to me, I am here to listen.”
Katie Rhodes, one of the students present at the lecture, told the Duke that the incident made her “extremely uncomfortable.”
“The fact that he thought that it was ok to say that in class makes me afraid that things like that still happen,” Rhodes said. “As a future educator, I’m extremely upset. No student should have to feel scared to go to class and fear that they will hear a racial slur.”