ProJo / 04:19 PM EDT on Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Ralph R. Papitto, the former Roger Williams University Board of Trustees chairman who used a racial slur at a board meeting, issued a statement today apologizing and saying he has asked the Board of Trustees to remove his name from the university's law school.
"I deeply regret the pain that this remark has caused those in the African American community and other minorities," Papitto said in the statement. "This remark in no way reflects my deep respect for the African American community and for the many contributions African Americans have made to our society."
Papitto himself did not attend the press conference called for the purpose of delivering the statement. Instead, it was read by his representative, Mike Trainor. Papitto's lawyer, Joseph Cavanaugh, also attended on Papitto's behalf.
Trainor explained that Papitto, 80, is still in recovery from quadruple bypass surgery and is not able to take part in "very stressful situations."
A group of 179 law students, a Roger Williams University professor and, today, the Rhode Island Minority Leadership/Legislative Caucus, have all asked that Papitto's name be removed from the university's law school -- the state's only law school.
In the statement, Papitto says, "A continued public discussion and debate over the name of the law school serves only to further damage the university. Therefore, and as a reflection of the sincerity of my regret and of my deep commitment to Roger Williams University, I have today asked the Board of Trustees to remove my name from the law school."
Papitto's statement also says: "I also wish to state that this is a truly isolated incident. I flatly repudiate allegations that this sort of comment in any way characterizes my conversational traits or behavior."
He added that over the past several days, "I have done much soul searching and reflection. As I have indicated repeatedly, I take full responsibility for this matter and ask for understanding from the community."