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UT Transitions Strategic Focus for its Global Engagement in Asia

UT is making changes to bolster its educational and research efforts throughout Asia. As part of the plan, the university will close its Confucius Institute and launch its own global programming.

“It’s part of the university’s mission to generate new knowledge through research and to educate the next generation of global citizens in the most relevant way possible,” said Gretchen Neisler, vice provost for international affairs. “We think we can do that more effectively by creating our own initiative for engagement in various regions of the world, and we plan to start with Asia.”

UT has provided the required six-month notice to the Confucius Institute Headquarters (Hanban) and Southeast University in Nanjing, the university’s Chinese partner in the Institute, of its intention to terminate the contract at the end of the spring semester.

“We believe our Confucius Institute has served us well for six years, laying the groundwork for a strong partnership with Southeast University and providing cultural opportunities for our community,” she said. “Our students have benefited from expert language instruction and opportunities for travel. We hold in high regard the work of the Confucius Institute staff and their focus on building our network and programming. We are appreciative of their commitment and that of Southeast University.

“But economically and strategically, it’s time to move in a different direction.

“Our global efforts must be nimble; from the languages we teach to the research opportunities we pursue, we have to stay relevant and keep an eye on the future. It’s easier for us to do that if we’re running our own program.”

The university also wants to maintain its partnership with Southeast University.

Neisler is working with senior administration and academic leaders to develop a platform that will look at UT’s research, academic offerings, and cultural opportunities in a way that encompasses all of Asia, not just China. UT leadership will hold a campus town hall to discuss plans and solicit feedback.

Hanban provides an assistant director for the Confucius Institute and sends three to four lecturers to teach language classes each year. UT will use the resources that it had been providing to the Confucius Institute to hire its own faculty to bolster proposed language programs associated with the new platforms.

Contact:

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034, ablakely@utk.edu)