A Texas First: Confucius Institute
UT Dallas Center Will Promote Chinese Language, Culture, Business
Sept. 30, 2007
A non-profit center aimed at promoting Chinese language and culture and commercial ties between China and the United States will open this fall on the campus of The University of Texas at Dallas.
The Confucius Institute at UT Dallas will be part of a global network of partnerships whose purpose is to promote a greater understanding of China’s language and civilization. It will be the first such institute in Texas and one of only 21 in the nation.
Named for the preeminent ancient Chinese philosopher, the institute is a cooperative project involving the government of the People’s Republic of China; its Office of Chinese Language International, Hanban; UT Dallas; and the China Three Gorges University in Yichang City, China.
“The establishment of a Confucius Institute is significant for the University,” said UT Dallas President David E. Daniel. “China’s growing economic and political power has created a palpable demand worldwide for Chinese language instruction and information about China by students, scholars and business and other professionals. The institute will provide this crucial knowledge to a variety of audiences in Texas.”
An estimated 100,000 Chinese-Americans live in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and an already significant level of trade between North Texas and China is rising.
“The selection of UT Dallas by Hanban on behalf of the government of the People’s Republic of China as the site for the first Confucius Institute in Texas is both an honor and an opportunity — for the University and our region,” said Dr. Dennis Kratz, dean of the UT Dallas School of Arts & Humanities, where the center will be housed.
“With the establishment of the institute, we envision UT Dallas becoming a hub for the teaching of Chinese language, history and culture across the educational spectrum, and an advocate of broad cultural and commercial interaction between residents of this region and those in China,” Kratz added. “The Confucius Institute will find a fertile environment for its mission and will foster an increasingly productive relationship between these two important parts of the world.”
“As the first Confucius Institute in Texas, there is historical and realistic significance in regard to Chinese language teaching, educational and cultural exchanges and cooperation between China and the southern part of America,” said Consul Weiping Zha, director of the education office in the Chinese Consulate General in Houston. “It will serve as a wonderful bridge leading to mutual understanding and friendship between the two countries.”
Once operations begin, the institute will:
- Expand the University’s existing Chinese language program, offering beginning-to-advanced courses at both the undergraduate and graduate level. In addition, UT Dallas will help foster the teaching of Chinese in K-12 grades in area schools and will certify Chinese language instructors.
- Significantly increase UT Dallas’ academic offerings in the areas of China and Asia studies.
- Offer workshops, public lectures and cultural programs to increase understanding of China in Texas.
Longer term, Kratz foresees the noted Center for Translation Studies at UT Dallas supporting not only the translation of important cultural documents, but also communications, contracts and other documents for area companies that do business in China. He believes that local business people will also be potential users of the University’s Chinese language courses.
The international advisory board for the new institute will include such prominent individuals as Amy Hofland, director of the Margaret and Trammell Crow Collection of Asian Art in Dallas, and Baoyong Zheng, senior executive vice president of China’s Huawei Technology Industries.
A grant of $100,000 from the China Ministry of Education will help launch the institute, but the goal is to eventually have a self-sustaining institute. Additional money must be raised through grants, fundraising activities or fees for such services as language classes, business workshops and artistic performances.
Begun in 2004, the Confucius Institute project has established more than 120 centers throughout the world. The project is based in Beijing and is administered by the Chinese Ministry of Education.
About UT Dallas
The University of Texas at Dallas, located at the convergence of Richardson, Plano and Dallas in the heart of the complex of major multinational technology corporations known as the Telecom Corridor, enrolls more than 14,500 students. The school’s freshman class traditionally stands at the forefront of Texas state universities in terms of average SAT scores. The University offers a broad assortment of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs. For additional information about UT Dallas, please visit the University’s website at www.utdallas.edu.