By Whitney Hale
The University of Kentucky Confucius Institute (UKCI) has received one of five 2014 Confucius Institute of the Year Awards in the U.S. and one of 15 among 470 institutes in the world at the ninth Confucius Institute Conference held Dec. 7, in Xiamen, China. This is UK's second award for the institute and the third competitive award from the Office of Chinese Language Council International (colloquially known as Hanban) in three years.
Awarded by Hanban, the honor distinguishes the UKCI among the more than 470 Confucius Institutes worldwide; there are more than 90 Confucius Institutes in the U.S. UKCI DirectorHuajing Maske was on hand to accept the award at the conference. UK previously won this honor in 2012.
"Our selection by Hanban reflects UK’s strong commitment to promoting learning about China throughout the Commonwealth," Maske said. "I am particularly appreciative of the engagement of faculty and students who have embraced the opportunities UKCI brings to campus, the guidance of the CI steering committee, and the support of university leadership. Together we are working towards putting UK and its Confucius Institute on the list of world’s best institutions."
The award will enable the university's institute to create more opportunities for UK students and faculty to study, teach and travel to China, and will increase UK’s visibility among Chinese universities and among the 470 institutions around the world that host Confucius Institutes.
In addition to recognition for the institute itself, last year Maske won the other competitive award presented by Hanban. She was one of only 15 leaders to receive a 2013 Confucius Institute Individual Performance Excellence Award worldwide.
The honors continue to bring valuable new opportunities to the UK community.
"We are so proud that the UK Confucius Institute and our director, Dr. Huajing Maske, have been recognized again for their exemplary work as a Confucius Institute of the Year," said Susan Carvalho, associate provost for internationalization. "This may well be an unprecedented string of laurels. It is impressive indeed, to have UK on that very visible stage for the third year in a row, and this is a direct result of Huajing’s creativity and initiative, in the many innovative linkages she has devised between Kentucky and China that benefit our faculty, staff, students and community."
The mission of the UK Confucius Institute is to serve as Kentucky’s gateway to China in the areas of education, arts, culture and business. Maske and her staff have been largely successful in fulfilling this mission at UK, local Kentucky schools and in the community at large.
Since its inauguration in 2010, the institute has positioned itself as a conduit of UK’s China initiatives, and created many successful partnerships between colleges at UK and Chinese universities. UK Confucius Institute has also played a valuable role in K-12 Chinese language and cultural education.