California professor who asked student to ‘Anglicize’ name put on leave

(file) (iStock/VM)

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) – A professor at a San Francisco Bay Area community college has been put on leave after asking a Vietnamese-American student to “Anglicize” her name because it sounds like a vulgarity in English, school officials confirmed.

Laney College President Tammeil Gilkerson said that as soon as campus leaders learned of the comments, an unnamed faculty member was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation, the East Bay Times reported.

Freshman Phuc Bui Diem Nguyen told KGO-TV last week that on her second day of classes at the college in Oakland, she received an email from her trigonometry professor, Matthew Hubbard, asking her to use a different name.

“On the surface this incident is obviously disturbing and comes after decades of discussing and working to combat structural racism, xenophobia, and violence” against the Black and Asian Pacific Islander community, Gilkerson said.

Hubbard said in an email to The Associated Press that he was sorry for his mistakes “and the pain they caused so many.” He declined to elaborate.

About 30 percent of the college's more than 16,000 students are Asian-American.

Nguyen said people would ask how to pronounce her name when they didn't know how while she was growing up.

“He’s being an ignorant person and not trying to learn my name,” she said of the professor.