UK Receives Funding for Model Confucius Institute, Accepts Multiple Gifts

By Whitney Hale

(Dec. 16, 2015) – The University of Kentucky Board of Trustees accepted a contribution of $1.7 million from Confucius Institute Headquarters (Hanban) to establish a Model Confucius Institute. The funding, which will be matched by the university, will pay for the renovation of an area at Lucille C. Little Fine Arts Library and Learning Center dedicated to the institute.  

"We have been so proud to see UK recognized on the international stage, in China, and this latest investment in our partnership will cement the UK Confucius Institute’s standing as one of the world’s leading Confucius Institutes," said Associate Provost for Internationalization Susan Carvalho. "It is a credit to the leadership and vision of Dr. Huajing Maske, the Confucius Institute director and the executive director of our Office of China Initiatives, as well as a testament to the expert guidance of the faculty- and community-led steering committee."

The Confucius Institute is a partnership between China’s Ministry of Education and some 500 global universities. There are currently 110 Confucius Institutes in the United States, including such universities as Columbia and Stanford. At UK, it is run as a matching-funds grant to ensure transparency and accountability.

Established in 2010, the UK Confucius Institute was the 68th in the U.S. The institute was brought to the university through the strategic planning and hard work of the Asia Center, a group of faculty that landed funding to also help establish UK's Japanese and Chinese majors. In its first five years of operation, the institute has won one of the select few Global Confucius Institute of the Year Awards, in 2012 and 2014, and a Director’s Individual Performance Award from Hanban in 2013.

The UK institute's success made it well positioned to compete for increased funding, when Hanban decided to establish a small number of Model Confucius Institutes that would offer high-quality space for showcasing China-related programming.

"There are currently 20 Model Confucius Institutes among the 500 Global Confucius Institutes. This award signifies Hanban's recognition of our hard work and achievement," Maske said. "We owe our success to the support of the faculty and students and to the support of the university leadership who understand the important role global education plays in students’ success."

Renovations at Little Library will be made on the ground floor of the facility. The plans call for offices, meeting space, several classrooms including specific ones dedicated to traditional Chinese painting and calligraphy as well as a high-tech classroom, and a gallery and other display space to showcase Chinese culture for UK and the surrounding community. Currently, UK's Confucius Institute is located in offices within Bradley Hall, at the UK International Center. The expanded location will not only provide more space for the growing staff, but will also allow them to centralize its activities, provide an attractive and convenient site for conversations with faculty and students, and provide a high-tech environment for working across so many time zones.

"The new $1.7 million Confucius Institute Center represents UK's commitment to global issues, especially in the study and understanding of the world's largest country and second largest economy," Maske added.

As part of this growth, the Confucius Institute will align its next five years of work with UK's new strategic plan, focusing on student success and faculty engagement with China. The institute's plans include:

· growing its cooperative programming with Education Abroad to create more opportunities for internships and other international educational prospects for UK students; 

· continuing to expand teaching and research partnership opportunities in China for faculty;

· supporting the strengthening of Chinese studies across the campus;

· facilitating better integration of international students and domestic students;

· providing more high-impact educational opportunities for all students; and

· serving as a hub for the training and professional development of K-12 teachers of Chinese language and culture.

It is believed that this investment in the Confucius Institute will also benefit other international programming at UK. Provost Tim Tracy has just returned from China, where he met with Director-General Madame Xu Lin, of Hanban, the funding organization for Confucius Institutes. He reported that "when Mme. Xu Lin told me that she had researched our website and wanted to extend our next win-win collaborations in the areas of agriculture and food preservation, I knew we had established the right kind of partnership. Our collaboration has been remarkably successful in aligning Hanban's priorities with our own strengths and ambitions."

In addition, the Model Confucius Institute at UK will continue to support Chinese language and culture programs in the K-12 schools and work with UK extension offices in 120 counties to deepen and diversify UK’s community outreach. 

"A rising tide lifts all boats. All of UK’s international opportunities are assisted by the success of the Confucius Institute, which brings not only funding but global visibility, networking and mutual cultural understanding," Carvalho said. "We are proud of this jewel in the crown of internationalization at UK, and look forward to the opportunities this creates for the Commonwealth and, most of all, our students."

The Board of Trustees also accepted:

·       A $1 million gift from EdR to the university’s Corporate Partner Scholarship Quasi-Endowment Fund. The annual spending distributions from the endowed fund support one or more scholarships annually to students who have demonstrated potential for academic success and who have unmet financial need. EdR is UK’s partner in building student housing.

  • A pledge totaling $1 million (which includes $800,000 in payments received) from former Kentucky Supreme Court Justice William S. Cooper to support the renovation and expansion of the College of Law Building. Cooper is a law alumnus.
  • A gift of $858,911.63 from the estate of James C. Blair, formerly of Columbia, Kentucky, to support the Adair County Scholarship Fund, which provides scholarships to students from Adair County.
  • A gift of $638,000 from the Barnstable Brown Foundation of Louisville, Kentucky, to be used as current funds to support the existing Barnstable Brown Kentucky Diabetes and Obesity Center.
  • Gifts totaling $629,857.09 from the estate of Deborah Eggum, formerly of Wilmore, Kentucky, to support the Eggum Family Scholarship Fund that benefits the Honors Program.
  • A pledge of $1 million from Brett and Billie Jo Setzer of Nicholasville, Kentucky, to support the construction of a training facility for the UK football team.
  • A pledge of $15 million, which includes $1.5 million in payments received, from the T. W. Lewis Foundation of Tempe, Arizona, for the future Lewis Honors College. Original announcement of the gift was made Oct. 22.
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