Confucius Institute at University of South Carolina Expected to Enhance Learning, K – 12 Education and Trade

November 18, 2008

COLUMBIA, SC – November 17, 2008 – University of South Carolina President Harris Pastides and representatives from China officially launched a prestigious Confucius Institute at the state’s flagship university Monday, November 17.

Pastides was joined by officials from Beijing Language and Culture University (BLCU) and the Office of Chinese Language Council International, the university’s partners, to announce the Confucius Institute, which is expected to impact K-12 education and business and trade in South Carolina, as well as undergraduate education at the university.

“Through teaching, research and exchange programs, the Confucius Institute will play a major role in educating our students and furthering our understanding of China,” Pastides said. “Moreover, it will build on the university’s reputation as a leader in international business and prepare not only our students, but also business people, to compete in the global marketplace.”

The University of South Carolina is the first research university in South Carolina to establish a Confucius Institute (CI). The Office of Chinese Language Council International, a division of the Chinese Ministry of Education, has launched more than 260 such institutes in 75 countries since 2004 to promote education about Chinese language, culture and society.

Dr. Tan Ye, director of the university’s Center for Asian Studies, has been named director of the Confucius Institute.


Some of the Chinese garments that were on display during Monday’s festivities.

The CI is expected to strengthen the university’s course offerings in Chinese language and culture, lead to more faculty hiring in the area of Chinese studies, bring visiting scholars from China to campus, expand China-related research library collections and, through a Confucius Resource Center at Thomas Cooper Library, provide a range of English and Chinese-language materials on Chinese culture. The BLCU has provided three visiting faculty members at no cost to the university; the faculty appointments will rotate every two years.

“The Confucius Institute comes at a time when student enrollment in Chinese literature and culture courses at the university has tripled in the last two years and student participation and interest in study-abroad programs in China are at an all-time high,” said Dr. Mary Anne Fitzpatrick, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

To further enhance learning opportunities through the CI, BLCU Vice President Zhao Ming announced Monday that the BLCU is planning to grant a substantial number of scholarships to University of South Carolina students to study at BLCU.

“These scholarships will greatly enhance the learning and cultural opportunities available to Carolina students,” Ye said. “The announcement of these scholarships further demonstrates the commitment by the Beijing Language and Culture University to the success of the Confucius Institute at the University of South Carolina. We are honored to be a partner with the BLCU in this endeavor.”

Ye said the CI will work with the state’s government and industry leaders to strengthen public understanding of Chinese language and culture and to forge stronger trade partnerships with mainland China.

The CI also will partner with the S.C. Department of Education to train K-12 teachers for offering Chinese language and culture courses and the S.C. Department of Commerce to provide intensive cultural and language training for business professionals who work with Chinese trading partners.

Joe Taylor, the state’s commerce secretary, said the CI will reinforce South Carolina as the Southeast’s top export trade partner with China.

“South Carolina has been a national leader in cultivating a strong working relationship with China for many years.  In fact, South Carolina was the first state to establish an office in China that was recognized by the Chinese government. The state’s office in Shanghai has delivered results that prove South Carolina is a competitive location for attracting foreign direct investment,” said Taylor. “Commerce’s recruitment efforts from Shanghai and commitment to help build a relationship with China has yielded substantial dividends. From increased exports to recruiting Chinese investment to educating the state’s future workforce about China, our work to cultivate relationships with China will have a lasting impact on our state in terms of job creation, foreign direct investment and export opportunities for South Carolina businesses.”

Ye said the CI also will offer programs and cultural events for the public.