Confucius Institute Opens with Colorful Ceremony

TAMPA, Fla. (Feb. 27, 2008) – A delegation of representatives from the Consulate General of the People's Republic of China in Houston  and Nankai University in Tianjin, China visited the University of South Florida for the opening of the USF Confucius Institute March 2.  With this association, USF becomes the first university in Florida and the first major public research university in the Southeastern United States to establish a Confucius Institute.

The USF Confucius Institute will assist the educational and business communities in Tampa Bay in developing closer ties with China through Chinese language instruction and the incorporation of Chinese culture into an array of classes including business, public health, the humanities and the arts.

The Confucius Institute is a partnership between the Chinese government and educational institutions around the world, with approximately 210 branches in 64 nations.  Xu Lin, the Confucius Institute director of Hanban (the Office of Chinese Language Council International) and USF Provost Ralph Wilcox formally signed the agreement in Beijing in December.

“The establishment of the Confucius Institute is part of our strategy for becoming more globally engaged. It’s of tremendous benefit to USF, the economy of Tampa Bay, and the state of Florida,” said Wilcox.  “The USF Confucius Institute will help develop a greater understanding of China and enhance our capabilities of doing business in the Chinese language while maintaining closer ties with the nation that’s expected to soon become the world’s largest economy.”

USF Associate Professor Dajin Peng will serve as the institute’s director, and Nankai University has appointed associate professor Jianhui Teng as the associate director from its faculty.  Professor Teng and two other professors from Nankai already have arrived at USF.

“Being the first Confucius Institute in Florida, the USF Confucius Institute will put USF in a very favorable position to take advantage of the enormous opportunities in China,” said Peng.  “The Institute will be a center of Chinese studies and China exchange and will serve as a bridge between Florida and China.”

As part of the initial five-year agreement, USF and Nankai University will build on more than 20 years of existing faculty and student exchange programs between the two universities.  It is expected that the Confucius Institute will offer Chinese language teacher training and foreign language teaching resources leading to teacher certification in collaboration with USF’s College of Education.  There also will be new initiatives such as eco-tourism, trade and sustainable development as educational themes as well as new opportunities for research collaboration between scholars and scientists at the two universities.  Classes will be held on the USF Tampa campus and in collaboration with Tampa Bay community associations and public institutions.  The local community in the Greater Tampa Bay area has provided strong support to the establishment of the USF Confucius Institute.

Nankai University, known as “the Yale of China,” is in China’s third largest city, Tianjin, the home of a special Economic Zone that is expected to be the new economic capital of China.  USF will be Nankai’s fifth Confucius Institute partner, joining the University of Maryland and universities in Japan, Portugal and Colombia.  For more information about Nankai University, visit:

The University of South Florida is among the nation's top 63 public research universities and one of 39 community engaged public universities as designated by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. It is one of Florida's top three research universities. USF was awarded more than $300 million in research contracts and grants last year. The University offers 219 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine. The University has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 45,000 students on campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland. USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.

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