The engineering professor who told an international student to “learn English” will retire following the spring semester, a spokesperson for the University said Tuesday, April 30.
Gary Minden, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science, already planned to retire, and will follow through with those plans, University spokesperson Erinn Barcomb-Peterson said.
At the start of Minden’s embedded systems class March 5, an international student in the front row was using a cellphone, Minden said in a previous interview with the Kansan. Since the course has a no-cellphone policy, Minden said he asked what the student was doing, and the student said he was using a translator.
At that point, Minden said, he told the student to “learn English.” About one-third of the nearly 80 students in the class then walked out, said Kyle Kappes-Sum, a student enrolled in the class in a previous interview with the Kansan.
“We're all sitting there stunned for at least a solid 45 seconds because, 'Did he really just say that to someone?' He didn't try to hide anything; he just said that straight out,” Kappes-Sum said.
Minden said Tuesday he decided to retire in August after he attended a meeting of his academic department and realized he’d been at the University as a student and faculty member for about 50 years.
“I’ve had good friends. I’ve had great colleagues. I’ve had exquisite staff. I’ve had fun for 50 years through different projects and different opportunities,” Minden said. “Let’s all go have more fun.”
Minden declined to comment further on the events Tuesday, but in March, he said no students came to talk to him privately following the student walkout.
A University professor of electrical engineering and computer science told an international student to 'learn English' during a lecture on Tuesday.
“Everyone thinks I made a mistake. I did,” Minden said. “On the other hand, I don’t feel I should take responsibility for students’ feelings. They each have their own lives. They each bring their own life into the classroom.”
After the March incident, the University assigned Andrew Williams, a professor in electrical engineering and computer science, to finish the course through the semester.
Embedded systems was the only class Minden taught this semester, Barcomb-Peterson said.