Chen appointed director of Confucius Institute
Jianguo Chen has been appointed director of the Confucius Institute at UD.

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10:59 a.m., Sept. 13, 2010----Gong xi, Professor Chen!

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Soon, the University of Delaware community may know that “gong xi” means “congratulations” in Chinese, thanks to the Confucius Institute focusing on Chinese language, culture and entrepreneurship to be inaugurated at UD on Oct. 19.

Jianguo Chen, associate professor of Chinese Studies and director of the Chinese program in UD's Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, has been appointed director of the Confucius Institute, a University-wide program in which interdisciplinary and global academic and cultural programs and initiatives are developed with ample participation from a variety of colleges, departments and other units throughout campus, as well as the Delaware community.

The institute is a partnership between the University of Delaware and Xiamen University in Xiamen, China.

“Professor Chen is a highly respected scholar with significant experience in developing collaborative, international programs. We look forward to his leadership of our new Confucius Institute, and we thank our colleagues at Xiamen University and at Hanban/Confucius Institute Headquarters for their support and collaboration in this exciting endeavor,” said UD Deputy Provost Havidán Rodríguez, who announced the appointment. Rodríguez has been leading the University's internationalization efforts, including several delegation visits to China. UD currently has academic and research partnerships under way on all seven continents.

“The Confucius Institute at the University of Delaware will provide remarkable educational opportunities for UD students, faculty and staff, as well as the surrounding community. It marks another major step forward in the University's Path to Prominence strategic plan, underscoring our commitment to multiculturalism and the globalization of our campus,” Rodríguez noted.

According to Hanban/Confucius Institute Headquarters, which is affiliated with the Chinese Ministry of Education, China began establishing Confucius Institutes in foreign countries in 2004 in response to public interest in China and the country's increasing role in the world's economy and culture. Today, there are 316 Confucius Institutes around the world, including 66 in the United States.

The broad goals of the Confucius Institute include enhancing the understanding of Chinese language and culture, strengthening educational and cultural exchange and cooperation, expanding and enhancing relationships and collaborations between China and other countries around the world, and promoting a world of multiculturalism.

“I'm excited about the appointment -- it's a great opportunity and a great challenge because not many other universities have taken this step before,” Chen said. “The University of Delaware has a bold plan to globalize the campus, and I look forward to contributing significantly to that plan.”

A native of mainland China, Chen directs UD's Chinese language program and teaches courses in Chinese language, literature, culture and film. His major areas of research include 20th-century Chinese literature, contemporary Chinese writers, Chinese cultural and film studies, and comparative literature studies with a focus on critical theory. He has a doctorate in comparative literature from the University of California, Davis, a master's degree in English and American literature from Shanghai International Studies University, and a bachelor's degree in English literature from East China Normal University.

Chen is the author of numerous publications, including journal articles, book chapters, and books, and a referee for a number of journals on Chinese literature and culture. Most recently, he authored The Aesthetics of the “Beyond”: Phantasm, Nostalgia, and Literary Practice in Contemporary China published by the University of Delaware Press in 2009, and served as chief editor of Teaching and Learning Chinese: Issues and Perspectives issued earlier this year by Information Age Publishing Inc.

He also co-directed or will direct the University of Delaware's study abroad winter program in China in 2003, 2007, 2009 and 2011.

Since 2007, Chen has won over $900,000 in competitive grants from the U.S. State Department to establish two major international programs for U.S. high-school students in China, including Delaware's Governor's School for Excellence in Chinese Language and Culture (2007-2008), a summer program involving selected high-school students in the state, and the National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) Summer Institute in Shanghai (2009-2010). The latter program is designed to immerse 24 academically talented high-school students from across the United States in the language and culture of China, through an intensive program in China's megacity.

Chen says major goals of the Confucius Institute will be to strengthen, develop and promote Chinese language and culture at the institutional level for the University community, including faculty, staff and students. The institute also will develop educational and programmatic initiatives, including certificate programs in Chinese, for the external community, which includes government agencies, public and private schools, community organizations and industries in the state of Delaware, and across the Delmarva Peninsula.

“I look forward to working with the Institute for Global Studies, the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Education and Human Development, Area Studies, Professional and Continuing Studies, the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes, as well as other interested colleges, departments and units on campus to develop and implement an extensive number of initiatives aimed at enhancing Chinese language and culture at UD and expanding UD's international partnerships in China,” Chen said.

The inauguration of UD's Confucius Institute will be held Tuesday, Oct. 19, 5-7 p.m., in the Gore Recital Hall of the Roselle Center for the Arts. The event is open to the University community and to the public.

Article by Tracey Bryant
Photo by Evan Krape

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