Confucius Institute at Kennesaw State among top Chinese culture centers worldwide

From left: Cathy Dongmei Liao, CIKSU assistant director; Barry Morris, Kennesaw State vice provost; and Ken Jin, CIKSU director

Pre-K–12 language instruction initiative reaches highest number of students among U.S.-based programs

Click here for a downloadable photo of Kennesaw State University officials in Beijing receiving one of the 2012 "Confucius Institutes of the Year" awards.

KENNESAW, Ga. (Dec. 20, 2012) — The Confucius Institute at Kennesaw State University (CIKSU) has been named among this year’s “Confucius Institutes of the Year,” an honor bestowed annually to a select group of Chinese language and culture centers operating worldwide.

Kennesaw State’s Confucius Institute program was one of just 26 institutes around the world selected to receive the award, which was presented at the 7th Annual Confucius Institute Conference, held in Beijing, Dec. 16-18. Seven U.S.-based institutes received the prestigious honor — two of those seven based in Georgia.

The annual conference brings together representatives from the global network of nearly 400 Confucius Institutesthat are designed to promote Chinese language and culture in foreign countries. The institutes are overseen by The Office of Chinese Language Council International (Hanban), an affiliate of the Chinese Ministry of Education.

“This award is a special honor for Kennesaw State University and the Confucius Institute,” said President Daniel S. Papp. “This recognition is well deserved by the Institute’s leadership. The CIKSU team has cultivated critical relationships and partnerships, and nurtured the steady and systematic development of the program.  The Confucius Institute’s work is a significant element of Kennesaw State’s efforts to internationalize our campus community, and we are proud of the Institute’s work serving not only KSU, but also communities throughout Georgia.”  

Since it was established in fall 2008, CIKSU has grown exponentially.  Among its wide range of programming that serves K-12, higher education, the public and business sectors, the Confucius Institute at KSU relies on its partnership with China’s Yangzhou University to train volunteer Chinese language teachers that provide instruction in 34 Georgia schools and day-care centers around the state.  For the 2012-2013 academic year, 38 Chinese exchange teachers are participating in that particular program.

CIKSU’s language-instruction program provided Chinese language instruction to 140 students when it initially began, and now serves more than 10,250 pre-K through high-school students. In August 2012, the language program began providing Mandarin instruction to 8,150 pre-K through fifth-grade students in all 25 Bibb County, Ga., elementary schools.  In addition to Bibb County, CISKU language instruction programs are currently operating in lottery-funded pre-K centers and K-12 schools in Cobb and Hall counties.

The language programs have grown as a result of partnership agreements between Bright from the Start/Georgia’s Commission for Early Care and Learning, the Georgia Department of Education, and local public school systems. 

Kennesaw State’s “Confucius Institutes of the Year” award also recognizes CIKSU’s other program accomplishments.  The Institute has organized more than 40 cultural events for students and the greater community; sponsored study trips to China for more than 450 students and professionals; and provided customized training and Chinese cultural understanding programs to U.S.-based businesses doing business in China. 

Barry Morris, vice provost for strategic initiatives at Kennesaw State, accepted the award on behalf of the university, at an awards ceremony held on Saturday in Beijing. Morris was instrumental in the initial negotiations that led to the creation of the Confucius Institute at Kennesaw State. 

"This award is the latest confirmation of KSU’s role as a national and global leader in international education,” Morris said.  “It speaks loudly to the higher education imperative of preparing students for the world that they live in today.  I am extremely proud of the hard work, world-class professionalism, and award-winning performance of the CIKSU staff."

Ken Jin, CISKU’s director, credits the Institute’s staff for delivering an award-winning program.

“Our team of 44 staff members and teachers has worked very hard to deliver high-quality programs and services and to achieve outstanding performance,” said Jin. “We are extremely proud of what they have accomplished. Through their efforts, CIKSU delivers unique and innovative programs that help prepare Georgia students for the opportunities and challenges of the global economy, and serve Georgia companies by assisting them with their business needs in China – all of which helps make Georgia more competitive for attracting investments.”

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Kennesaw State University is the third-largest university in Georgia, offering 80 graduate and undergraduate degrees, including doctorates in education, business and nursing, and a new Ph.D. in international conflict management. A member of the 35-unit University System of Georgia, Kennesaw State is a comprehensive, residential institution with a growing population of 24,600 students from more than 130 countries.