Confucius Institute solidfies partnership

Published 7:26 am Sunday, November 23, 2008

Troy University’s Confucius Institute became official this Friday, creating opportunities for economic development and Chinese integration in Pike County, said Chancellor Jack Hawkins, Jr.

“The Confucius Institute will make a difference in Alabama,” Hawkins said.

Through a partnership with Hebei Normal University of Science and Technology in China, the Confucius Institute was born on Troy’s campus, and it is not only the first in Alabama but just the 54th in the United States.

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Hawkins said the institute, which integrates Chinese culture throughout Troy’s campus, will also serve as a springboard for business with China, creating more business in hard economic times.

As part of the agreement with China, Troy has several Chinese faculty members from a partner school teaching not just Mandarin Chinese but other courses, as well.

Eventually, he said he hopes all departments at Troy University will have Chinese faculty.

Hawkins said the university will offer these Chinese courses to all of Alabama, and possibly to local school children in Pike County.

The project has been under way for several years, and Troy University had to compete for the institute, Hawkins said.

Hebei President Tang Shengling said Troy University was chosen because it is the best in Alabama.

“I think Troy University has a very beautiful campus, a very good chancellor and staff, and those are the basis for a good Confucius Institute,” Shengling said. “The oriental world and the western world have their own civilizations and cultures, so the two should be integrated.”

After an $8 million donation from Gov. Bob Riley, Troy University will begin constructing a Confucius Institute building in January.

The project will total $14 million, and will be built onto Bibb Graves Hall when the building is renovated in January.

Hawkins said the addition of the Confucius Institute marks one of the more important moments in Troy University history, and he plans to work to make it the best in the nation.