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Xavier first HBCU, first La. university to establish Confucius Institute

19th December 2011   ·   0 Comments

Senior administrators from Xavier University of Louisiana have signed a historic agreement that will make Xavier the first HBCU in the nation and the first university in Louisiana to establish a Confucius Institute (CI).

Dr. Loren J. Blanchard, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, led a four-member delegation that consisted of Dr. Monique Guillory, Special Assistant to the Administration, Dr. Rosalind Hale, Chair of Xavier’s Division of Education, and Ms. Julia Wilson, an international consultant. The official document was endorsed by Ms. Lin Xu, Director General of Hanban, the Confucius Institute headquarters in Beijing.

In the process of developing the focus for the Institute, Xavier has partnered with Hebei Univ­ersity in Baoding, China. The two universities recently formalized their collaborative agree­ment upon the opening of the 6th Annual Confucius Institute Conference in Beijing. Xavier’s CI application was the only one approved in conjunction with this meeting. Joint programming for Xavier’s CI will specifically target language instruction (Man­darin and English), Edu­cation, Pharmacy and Art.

“Hebei University and Xavier share the same vision for a Confucius Institute at Xavier,” said Professor Wang Hongrui, President of Hebei University. “We have appreciated the opportunity to learn more about this historic institution and we look forward to a long and mutually beneficial partnership.”

“We are pleased to embark on this partnership with Hebei University and to share with our students China’s remarkable language, history, and culture,” said Xavier President Norman C. Francis. “We are confident that this exchange will provide our students unprecedented access to Asia particularly at this critical historic moment of increased globalization,” Francis said.

In partnership with Hebei University, Xavier will start offering Mandarin courses in January concurrent with the campus’s anticipated official opening of the Confucius Institute in the earlier half of 2012.

There are more than 300 Confucius Institutes worldwide with roughly 80 in the United States. Through the Confucius Institute network, universities and k-12 schools receive substantial support in the development of Chinese language and culture programs. Several local and state officials commended Xavier on this historic achievement.

“Xavier’s Confucius Institute will contribute to the city’s economy and prosperity,” New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who supported Xavier’s bid for the Confucius Institute, said. “The dynamic curriculum demonstrates a strong commitment to fostering leadership and service in a global context.”

U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., echoed the mayor’s congratulatory sentiments. “I commend Xavier University for giving its students a phenomenal opportunity to experience Chinese culture,” she said. “Xavier’s Confucius Institute represents an exciting cross-cultural partnership, and I am pleased to support it.”

Xavier’s journey to the Confucius Institute began nearly two years ago through a cultural and economic delegation sent to China through the National Urban League. Urban League President and CEO, Marc Morial, was present at the inception of Xavier’s Confucius Institute and is pleased to see the idea come to fruition.

“The Confucius Institute at Xa­vier will be an essential step towards showcasing the richness of New Orleans and Xavier University to the world. Hope­fully this will be the first of many similar initiatives at historically Black colleges and universities to promote intellectual and cultural exchange with China,” Morial said.

Xavier has begun its preparations to send a group of students to Hebei University this summer to continue their language instruction. Hebei University is the only comprehensive university in the Hebei Province and was among the first institutions in China to admit international students since 1956.

The university consists of 30 colleges with 86 undergraduate majors. Current enrollment is 47,000 students and 8,000 faculty members. Hebei University has also established a Confucius Institute with Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. That institution has expressed an interest in joint programming with Xavier’s Con­fucius Institute.

This article was originally published in the December 19, 2011 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper

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