Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Friday, November 6, 2009

Confucius Institute opens with fanfare

Thursday’s opening of the Confucius Institute at U-M (CI-UM) was marked by the national anthems of the United States and the People’s Republic of China, rendered by virtuoso pipa artist Yang Wei. They were preceded by traditional Chinese string, percussion, and wind performances by the Chinese Ensemble of Renmin University of China.

President Mary Sue Coleman shakes hands with Chen Yulu, vice president for international affairs at Renmin University of China, after establishing the partnership between U-M and Renmin University. (Photo by Martin Vloet, U-M Photo Services)

In her remarks, President Mary Sue Coleman noted CI-UM’s unique role as a national resource on Chinese arts and culture for all Confucius Institutes in the United States.

CI-UM joins the network of more than 60 Confucius Institutes at universities around the United States — and more than 300 worldwide. The network has developed in collaboration with the Chinese Language Council International (Hanban) in Beijing, a branch of the Chinese Ministry of Education.

As Chinese dignitaries and university officials joined the celebration at the U-M Museum of Art, Coleman said the CI-UM will have a unique role, both nationally and locally.

“Arts and cultures — they are at the heart of the Confucius Institute at the University of Michigan, and they provide a strong complement to the tremendous array of Chinese resources currently available on our campus,” Coleman said.

“We will broaden the opportunities for students and faculty who are exploring Chinese culture and arts, as well as members of the community who will enjoy performances and exhibitions in the upcoming months and years.”

“The founding of the Confucius Institute will help us understand each other better,” said Chen Yulu, vice president for international affairs at Renmin University. “This will allow both of us to further promote cooperation and friendship.” Chen joined Coleman in a signing ceremony establishing the partnership between U-M and Renmin University.

“This occasion is the culmination of two years of work to establish a Confucius Institute on the campus of the University of Michigan,” said Lester Monts, senior vice provost of academic affairs.

CI-UM will add a substantial arts component to Coleman’s China Initiative, while advancing the university’s global programs and initiatives overall.

“In addition to Hanban and Renmin, we will join hands across the campus and throughout the region to showcase Chinese arts and culture,” Coleman said. “We will partner with our hosts today, the Museum of Art, and with the University Musical Society, which is so adept at attracting world music to our campus. And we will collaborate with organizations throughout southeast Michigan that do so much to sponsor and promote Chinese arts.”

“As scholars, we, the U-M faculty, know the ever increasing importance of contemporary China in the 21st century world of globalized arts, economy, and politics,” said Joseph Lam, professor of musicology in the School of Music, Theatre & Dance, and founding director of the CI-UM. “As teachers, we realize the effectiveness and the necessity of understanding China through its arts.”

CI-UM will host a number of faculty associates and stage a broad range of activities, such as residencies for Chinese scholars, artists, musicians, cultural exhibitions and performance groups, and substantially increased study-abroad opportunities for U-M students. Forward-looking plans include creation of the Chinese Opera and Theatre Workshop.

Development of CI-UM fulfills key elements of Coleman’s China Task Force, which recommended greater attention to the arts and humanities as opportunities for increased collaboration with China.

CI-UM is at 715 N. University, Suite 201.