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UMass Signs Agreement With China To Establish Confucius Institute

The University of Massachusetts has signed a letter of intent to establish a Confucius Institute, to be located on the UMass-Boston campus. The agreement, between the China National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language (Hanban) and the University of Massachusetts, will promote Chinese language and culture and support local Chinese teaching.

University of Massachusetts President Jack M. Wilson said, "This new collaboration is an important extension of the University's longstanding efforts to facilitate educational and cultural exchanges throughout the world. The University of Massachusetts has a well-established history of promoting international student and faculty exchanges and of creating collaborative relationships with colleges and universities in many other nations. In this increasingly interconnected and interdependent world, it is imperative that our students develop the necessary tools, such as foreign language skills, that will be essential to their success in the global economy."
He added, "My own avid interest in China - and my travels throughout that country - have made me eager to create University partnerships in multiple areas - in education, in business and in industry. The mutual understanding of language and culture can only help to improve our future collaborations centered on our shared values."

UMass-Boston Chancellor Michael F. Collins, MD, stated, "We're honored and excited to welcome the Confucius Institute to UMass-Boston. This dynamic international center, which builds upon our award-winning education partnerships, will help improve teacher training and curriculum development, offer campus and community events, and build a world-class clearinghouse of Chinese language and cultural materials."

The "University of Massachusetts Confucius Institute at Boston" will be a non-profit public institute and a collaborative endeavor between UMass and Hanban. The institute will provide programs and services including teaching the Chinese language, the training of Chinese teachers, Chinese curriculum development and Chinese language and cultural events. It will also provide learning opportunities for the community, a clearinghouse of Chinese language and cultural materials and a platform for research into Chinese language and culture.

Last year, U.S. Senators Joseph Lieberman and Lamar Alexander introduced legislation calling for an investment of $1.3 billion over five years to fund Chinese language instruction in schools with the aim of improving business and cultural relations with China. In addition, the demand for Chinese classes in K-12 schools is a growing priority in public education throughout the United States.

Nationally, Massachusetts is second only to California in the number of high schools that offer Mandarin Chinese classes.

The University of Massachusetts Confucius Institute at Boston will be the sixth such institute in the nation and the first one established in New England.

For more information: www.hanban.edu.cn

Contacts:
Robert P. Connolly, 617.287.7073
Bill Wright, 617.287.7065
Ed Hayward, 617.287.5302

3/15/06