Joel Poor, the business professor who was relieved of his teaching duties after an improper comment, remains an MU employee, said Christian Basi, spokesperson for the university.

On Monday morning, Poor, MU associate teaching professor at the Trulaske College of Business, made what some are calling a racist and xenophobic comment during the first day of his upper level marketing class.

By Monday night, Poor sent a Canvas notification to his students that read: “Today I was relieved of teaching duties, I apologize for any disruption this might cause you.”

When university officials became aware of the incident, it was referred to the Office for Civil Rights and Title IX, which initiated an investigation, Basi said.

Because it is a personnel issue, no further details could be provided, he said.

On Monday, the Twitter account #StillConcerned posted a clip of Poor’s Zoom lecture. Calls for disciplinary action ensued.

In the video posted on Twitter, Poor asked students if anyone was from outside the U.S., and a student responded that he was from Wuhan, China. After hearing where the student was from, Poor made this comment:

“Let me get my mask on.”

Following the backlash on Twitter, Poor wrote in a later email that the comment, which was in reference to Wuhan being the origin of COVID-19, was a joke. While Poor may have meant this comment to be humorous, some MU students do not see it that way. Many students have replied to the tweet saying that they found the comment to be racist and xenophobic.

“To anyone who was offended by my comments, I sincerely apologize,” Poor said. “I have nothing but respect and love for the Chinese people and especially my students from China.” The Twitter post has now been recognized by MU, which said in a tweet the comment was reported to the Office of Civil Rights and Title IX.

A longer video of the class interaction was also posted to Twitter:

  • Community reporter, Fall 2020 Studying Magazine Design Reach me at mghkr9@umsystem.edu, or in the newsroom at 882-5700

  • Molly Hart is an assistant city editor at the Missourian. She has previously reported on state government. She can be reached at mhart@mail.missouri.edu.

  • As senior editor of the Missourian, Fred Anklam manages general assignment reporters. He can be reached at anklamf@missouri.edu or in the newsroom at 573-882-5720.

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