HANGZHOU, China — Middle Tennessee State University and Hangzhou Normal University on Monday extended its Confucius Institute partnership — and discussed an idea to expand it with the creation of a Chinese music and cultural center at MTSU.
MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee and HNU President Du Wei signed a second five-year pact between the two universities that allows MTSU’s successful Confucius Institute to continue its work with HNU to promote Chinese language, history and culture. It will bring at least $500,000 in grant funding to the Murfreesboro campus.
The partners, at the annual advisory board meeting held at one of Hangzhou’s three campuses in the city, also discussed future plans, which may include a cultural and music center at MTSU that would be substantially funded through a separate grant from Confucius headquarters.
Plans for the center were first reported by China Daily on May 12 in a report on the speech by Madam Xu Lin, director-general of the worldwide Confucius organization, who delivered one of the spring commencement addresses at MTSU.
“The development of this center would be a vital and exciting project for both of our universities,” McPhee said. “It capitalizes upon several of our unique resources as well as the regional and international relationships we have developed.”
Among those resources, McPhee said, are MTSU’s School of Music in the College of Liberal Arts and the Center for Popular Music and the departments of Recording Industry and Electronic Media Communication in the College of Mass Communication.
“Our vision for the center is to complement and expand the cultural services we are now offering through our Confucius Institute,” the president said. “We will promote music as a vital element in education and cultural understanding.”
Du, a violin player himself, said he has been enthusiastic about the idea ever since he learned about the proposal from McPhee in December. “If you need our support,” he said, “we will organize some people and resources.”
The universities have been asked to submit a final proposal for the center in July to Hanban, the worldwide headquarters for Confucius.
Also, Du and McPhee pledged to work cooperatively to participate in the worldwide celebration of the 10th anniversary of the founding of the Confucius Institute in late September. “It’s another great opportunity to underscore the value of our partnership and affiliation,” McPhee said.
“We all appreciate our relationship, our partnership,” Du said of HNU’s ties to MTSU. “I think, for us, this is a very important moment in our history.”
Confucius Institute, named after the ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius, is sponsored by China’s Education Ministry to promote Chinese language, history and culture through tours, exchanges and university partnerships. There are more than 440 institutes in 120 countries.
The ceremony at Hangzhou was the second stop of McPhee’s latest visit to China, where he is expected to establish or renew MTSU’s ties with academic partners in Beijing, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Shanghai, Changsha, Zhangjiajie and Xi’an.
Also, on Friday, McPhee was asked to present leadership strategies and tactics to about 75 top and middle managers at Hanban in Beijing.
Under McPhee’s watch, MTSU’s international student enrollment has increased from 396 to 789 in five years, and the university has 335 students in its education abroad programs this summer. It has more than 40 exchange agreements with institutions around the world.