UKIC / Confucius Institute / Our Story

Our Story

In our role as a crucial link between China and Kentucky, the University of Kentucky Confucius Institute (UKCI) seeks to enhance individuals’ understanding of China through programs and partnerships that center on Chinese language, culture, arts and business and that specifically reach out supporting universities, K-12 schools, and communities throughout the Commonwealth.

The University of Kentucky Confucius Institute’s focus is threefold. It serves as a conduit for UK’s China initiatives; provides leadership and support for the Chinese language and culture programs in Kentucky’s K-12 classrooms; and functions as a hub for Chinese culture by providing authentic Chinese cultural programs that educate and enhance understanding of China for audiences all across the Commonwealth.

The primary objective of the University of Kentucky Confucius Institute is to support the core mission of the University of Kentucky by serving as an instrument for programs that lead both students and faculty toward more informed global citizenship and heightened intercultural competency. Within this framework, the UKCI provides support for the University of Kentucky and its colleges to identify, cultivate, and sustain strategic partnerships with Chinese institutions. Through these partnerships, we create teaching, researching, learning, and internship opportunities for faculty and students. In addition, we offer co-curricular and learning pathway programs on the UK campus to supplement learning, teaching, and research about China.

Moreover, the University of Kentucky Confucius Institute is a statewide leader in supporting K-12 education in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. UKCI’s K-12 Chinese Language, Culture Development, and Enhancement Program (KCLCDEP) helps Kentucky schools to foster and support global readiness programs with a focus in Chinese language and culture. In addition to developing and establishing these programs at Kentucky schools, the UKCI offers multiple China Study Trips for high school students and Kentucky educators each summer. During the school year, our Chinese Language and Culture Showcase Programs provide co-curricular and learning pathway programs for K-12 schools.

The UKCI is also the Chinese culture hub for the Commonwealth. We not only provide classes in Chinese language and Chinese traditional arts to members of the community, but also bring authentic Chinese cultural programs and performances to locales around the state.

Our History

Since its inception on Nov. 6, 2010, the Confucius Institute at the University of Kentucky has become the gold standard in serving as the portal between China and the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Since its inauguration, attended by US Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, Senator Mitch McConnell, and then-US Congressman Ben Chandler, the University of Kentucky Confucius Institute (UKCI) has grown, flourished, and continued to serve as Kentucky’s gateway to China in the areas of education, arts, culture, and business.

Over its history, the UKCI has been named the Confucius Institute of the Year three times: first in 2012 before earning the distinction again in 2014, and most recently in 2017. In 2013, Huajing Maske, Executive Director of the UKCI, was named the Confucius Institute’s Director of the Year. Additionally, the UKCI has been named the Global Model by the Confucius Institute, making it the flagship program among the 525 Confucius Institutes in 146 countries worldwide.

On September 25, 2017, the UKCI underwent one of its largest changes to date, relocating to the Lucille Little Fine Arts Library. After being awarded $1.7 million by the Confucius Institute Headquarters, the UKCI had a new home, transforming formerly unremarkable rooms and storage areas into a striking, modern, and functional space to house the model program. The space now houses select Confucius Institute programs in a central location on campus. 

Our Impact

Since 2010, the UKCI has been a staple of the University of Kentucky’s campus, serving UK’s strategic plan and core mission. During this period, the Confucius Institute’s resources have provided a positive impact for UK in multiple ways:

  • 14 of the 16 different colleges on UK’s campus are engaged with China through involvement of the UKCI.
  • 268 students studied abroad in China over the past five years through UKCI programs.
  • 110 of those students received scholarships or travel grants through the UKCI for the programs.
  • 93 faculty members have also completed UKCI study abroad programs in the past five years.
  • Since 2016 alone, the UK Confucius Institute has funded over $110,000 in travel grants and scholarships for University of Kentucky students and faculty to learn and teach in China.
  • The UKCI provided over $467,000 in programming for UK’s campus and the community in 2017, with over $716,000 in additional program funding slated for 2018.


The UKCI’s impact spreads beyond the University of Kentucky’s campus as well, impacting K-12 education in the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the local community in a multitude of ways:

  • 17,000 students in Kentucky are studying Chinese due to the UKCI’s installation of Chinese language programs.
  • 2,000 Chinese teachers have participated in ongoing professional development series hosted by the UKCI since 2010.
  • 640 Chinese teachers from 26 different states have attended the UKCI’s other training programs.
  • Over 200 Kentucky social studies teachers have attended Chinese culture professional development courses created and administered by the UKCI.
  • 159 high school students and 100 Kentucky educators have studied abroad through UKCI funded programs.
  • Over the past five years, the UKCI has hosted 1,070 cultural showcases for area schools.
  • The UKCI has hosted 270 additional Chinese cultural demonstrations for the community.
  • Nearly 53,000 people have been reached by the UKCI’s community programming and the number continues to grow.


The Confucius Institute at the University of Kentucky continues to grow and expand its offerings day-by-day and invites you to see how you can benefit from its many programs.