A University of Missouri professor faced backlash this week over what many have called a racist and xenophobic comment.

According to the the Columbia Missourian, the remark was made Monday while Joel Poor, an associate professor for the Trulaske College of Business, was leading a marketing class via Zoom. At some point during the lecture, Poor asked if any of the students were outside the United States; one person informed the professor he was in Wuhan, China, where the novel coronavirus emerged back in 2019.

"Wuhan? Let me get my mask on. Hold on," he said with a laugh.

A clip of Poor's comments was later shared on social media, prompting the university to launch an investigation.

On Monday night, Poor sent the following message to his students: "Today I was relieved of teaching duties, I apologize for any disruption this might cause you."

Mizzou spokesperson Christian Basi told the Columbia Missourian that Poor was still employed at the school, but declined to provide any more details because it was "a personnel issue."

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

According to the Columbia Missourian, Poor explained in an email that the Wuhan comment was meant as a joke. 

"To anyone who was offended by my comments, I sincerely apologize," he said. "I have nothing but respect and love for the Chinese people and especially my students from China."

The controversy drew mixed reactions among Twitter users, with some calling for Poor's termination, while others stating his comment was blown out of proportion.

You can read some of the reactions below.

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