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Chinese Partnership Results in Creation of Confucius Institute at the U of M
For release: August 13, 2007
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A descendant of the famed Chinese philosopher Confucius will be the director of the new Confucius Institute at the University of Memphis.  Dr. Hsiang-te Kung, a 75th generation descendant of Confucius, will head the Institute, which was announced today by officials of the University of Memphis and Hubei University in China.

The Confucius Institute at the University of Memphis will be the 24th such institute in the United States and one of just over 100 created since the initiative began in 2004 with an institute in Seoul, Korea.  The U of M was chosen after a highly competitive selection process among several universities.  It is being established with funds provided by the Beijing-based Office of Chinese Language Council International.

The Memphis Institute will be instrumental in fostering closer ties in a number of ways between mainland China and the United States.  Its specific goals will be to promote the understanding of the Chinese language and culture among Americans, to assist in developing friendly relations between the United States and mainland China, to accelerate the expansion of multiculturalism, and to provide opportunities for students to study the Chinese language. 

The local Institute will also work closely with the University’s new Asian studies and international trade program.  That program, which begins this fall, is designed to provide students with the critical skills that more and more international companies are seeking in their employees, such as foreign language proficiency, cultural sensitivity, experience abroad, and knowledge of international business.  The Asian studies program was funded by a gift of $1 million from an anonymous donor.

In announcing the creation of the Institute, U of M President Shirley Raines said, “It is an honor and a wonderful opportunity for the University of Memphis to house one of the world's Confucius Institutes.  The Institute will enhance the University's relationship with our sister institution in China, Hubei University.  Housing the Confucius Institute on our campus will make the University of Memphis a key player in the bilateral efforts to improve relations between the Chinese and United States governments and relations between the Chinese and American people.

“The formation of the Confucius Institute marks a true milestone for the University, and I want to thank the many people at the University of Memphis, in Washington, D.C., and in China who helped make the Confucius Institute at the University of Memphis a reality.”

Confucius is the Latinized name of legendary Chinese thinker and philosopher K’ung Fu-tzu, who lived and taught in China 551-479 BC.  His teachings and philosophy have deeply influenced thought and life in China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam.  He emphasized personal and governmental morality, correctness of social relationships, justice, and sincerity.  A school of philosophy based on his teachings has come to be called Confucianism.

Kung is a professor of geography at the University of Memphis, where he has taught since 1981.  He was born in China and grew up in Taiwan before coming to the United States in 1969.

More information about the Confucius Institute at the University of Memphis is available by phone at 901/678-3550 or online at http://cium.memphis.edu

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Last updated: 03/19/2008 16:41:02
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