Laney College professor placed on leave after telling Vietnamese student to ‘anglicize’ her name

A Laney College professor was placed on leave after telling a Vietnamese student to “anglicize” her name.

Screenshots of their email exchange was posted to social media showed Mathematics professor Matthew Hubbard telling Phuc Boi Nguyen that her name sounded like an “insult” in English.

She replied that his message felt “discriminatory” and she would file a Title IX complaint. 

He replied encouraging her to change her name. “I understand you are offended, but you need to know your name is an offensive sound in my language,” Hubbard wrote.

Bui, who is Vietnamese, told ABC 7 News she wants an apology. The email exchange happened during her second day of summer classes. She told ABC7, “I was shook.”

“We take these allegations seriously and immediately placed the faculty member on administrative leave pending an investigation.”

Dr. Tammeil Gilkerson

Laney College immediately issued a statement and placed Hubbard on administrative leave. “I am writing to let you know that we are aware of the allegations of racist and xenophobic messages from a faculty member at our college with a student about the pronunciation of their name,” Dr. Tammeil Gilkerson said. “We take these allegations seriously and immediately placed the faculty member on administrative leave pending an investigation.”

Laney College is the flagship campus of the Peralta Colleges, which has four colleges in Oakland, Alameda, and Berkeley. Laney College’s Asian Pacific Islander population represents between 25 to 30 percent of the student population. In 2006, Laney College hired its first Asian American college president, Dr. Frank Chong.

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