GRU establishes Confucius Institute with Shanghai University

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Georgia Regents University has been awarded a Confucius Institute, in partnership with Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, by the Han Ban in Beijing, China.

GRU Confucius Institute
GRU Confucius Institute

The mission of the GRU Confucius Institute is twofold, first to offer Chinese language, culture and arts to the university and community. The Chinese community has a long and storied history in Augusta with its first Chinese immigrants digging the Augusta Canal in the late 1870’s. Bringing this type of cultural benefit adds to this Augusta heritage. Secondly, because the GRU Confucius Institute is distinctive in this hemisphere of the world by offering studies in Traditional Chinese Medicine, it will promote learning and knowledge for practitioners, as well as deeper cultural understanding and patient centered benefits of Chinese Traditional Medicine in Health Professions therapies at local, regional, and national levels, said GRU Vice Provost Roman Cibirka.

“This is an exciting time for Georgia Regents University,” said GRU President Ricardo Azziz. “It is an honor to be selected as a Confucius Institute partner. While we have a history of strong relationships with Chinese institutions through our research investigators, we have never formalized them to the degree we are today. We are establishing the Confucius Institute to develop more formal ties and a closer working relationship with universities in China. The institute will also provide a tremendous cultural benefit to the local Chinese community, many of whom are students, faculty and staff on the GRU campus, and expose the entire Augusta area to the rich Chinese heritage.”

“The Confucius Institute is aligned with the Board of Regents’ strategic plan to globalize education and Georgia Regents University’s strategic plan,” Cibirka said. “It will be an integral part of the university’s globalization efforts. The institute will continue GRU’s footpath to achieve several organizational goals, such as becoming an internationally recognized leader in education, research, discovery, and scholarship by capitalizing on global partnerships.  These partnerships can enhance strategic areas of academic enrichment, research growth in biomedicine and the health services, as well as provide crucial wellness service to the local and global communities.”

Shanghai University of TCM, founded in 1956, is one of the first four colleges and universities of TCM established after the People’s Republic of China was founded. The university is located in the Scientific Research and Education Zone, ZhangJiang High-tech Park, Pudong New Area. It has 7,448 students, including over 1,000 short-term students from over 30 countries such as Japan, Korea, Russia, France, England, America, Germany and Italy who study at the university each year, and more than 600 specialists and professors.

The GRU Confucius Institute is premised on creating a highly visible and sustainable Confucius Institute with three distinct goals: 1) establish a comprehensive academic center for advancing the study of Chinese language and culture, 2) enhance multicultural awareness through a Chinese language and cultures program aimed at youth through adults in the broad Augusta community, and 3) provide Chinese language and culture instruction targeted to health professionals. These goals will showcase the GRU Confucius Institute as an international, one-of a kind resource center linked with an academic health center.  The SUTCM-GRU partnership will also develop a museum showcasing TCM exhibits.  A GRU Confucius Institute grand opening will be in approximately six months.

Dr. Joe Tsien, Co-Director of the Brain and Behavior Discovery Institute at Medical College of Georgia and MCG Professor of Neurology, will serve as the founding Director of the GRU Confucius Institute.

“The successful application and in a record time is a clear testimony to the visionary leadership and enormous strength of this great university and our Chinese partnership university,” Tsien said. “With close to almost 400 Confucius Institutes established to date world-wide, we are very proud that GRU receives this high distinction to be the very first Confucius Institute in North and South America to have the specialty education and training in Traditional Chinese Medicine.  This fits so well with the University’s roles in seeking excellence in education and research, including in the emerging area of alternative medicine.”

GRU will receive matching funds from the Confucius Headquarter, known as Han Ban, from Beijing of the People’s Republic of China.

Gary Tom, President of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, echoes the views of Dr. Ray Rufo, Past President of the CCBA, about the local benefits of the new GRU Confucius Institute.

“On behalf of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, we would like to extend our congratulations and appreciation to Dr. Azziz and his leadership team in pursuing and obtaining a Confucius Institute designation for GRU,” Tom said. “Augusta’s Chinese community has always taken pride in being an active member of our community, sharing our culture and maintaining our traditions.  We are ecstatic that the Confucius Institute will be available to provide more robust and diverse resources to the community.  We are excited about what the Confucius Institute means for GRU and its academic programs. We are equally excited about the opportunities and benefits that the Confucius Institute will bring to our educational, business, and cultural community, and we are extremely excited in what this means for our own children in the Chinese community to help them better learn about their rich heritage.”