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University of Cincinnati won't renew contract of professor who called COVID-19 'the Chinese virus'

A school dean said, "These types of xenophobic comments and stigmatizations around location or ethnicity are more than troubling."

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Updated: March 23, 2021 - 9:09am

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The University of Cincinnati did not renew a contract with a professor after he allegedly called COVID-19 "the Chinese virus."

The incident occurred in. September 2020 when an engineering student told instructor John Ucker he would be unable to attend class due to possible COVID exposure.

In emails obtained by Cincinnati's The Enquirer, Ucker emailed his students, saying, "For students testing positive for the chinese (sic) virus, I will give no grade."

The student then posted the interaction online, where it went viral and eventually made it to the dean of Engineering and Applied Science, John Weidner.

"These types of xenophobic comments and stigmatizations around location or ethnicity are more than troubling," Weidner said in response. "We can better protect and care for all when we speak about COVID-19 with both accuracy and empathy, something we should all strive for. 

The university first put Ucker on administrative leave without pay while investigated the incident, then said Friday the professor's contract would not renew.

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