Posted to: John Delaney, President University of North Florida
I recently learned that UNF has established a Confucius Institute. In recent years there has been significant debate about Confucius Institutes at other US universities; in particular, many faculty have expressed concern about the extent to which financial support from China will pressure faculty to avoid studying topics that are viewed negatively by the Chinese government. In July, the AAUP issued a report that was highly critical of the funding model for Confucius Institutes, saying that they “sacrificed the integrity of the university and its academic staff.” The AAUP report recommended shutting down Confucius Institutes until issues of academic freedom could be appropriately addressed. Some US universities, such as the University of Chicago, have followed this recommendation and closed their Confucius Institute. In light of these issues, I would like to ask the administration to comment on the extent to which faculty and the Faculty Association were involved in the decision to open a Confucius Institute at UNF. I would also like to ask them to comment on what measures have been taken to ensure the academic independence of UNF faculty who are associated with the Confucius Institute or who study issues related to China and the Chinese government.
President John Delaney addressed that in regarding the Confucius Institute during the November FA meeting:
This was a 5-year process which resulted in the opening ceremony for it last Wednesday, October 29, 2014 in the University Center. There is a number of Chinese faculty excited about it. Along with that, UNF is aware of some of the controversy surrounding Confucius Institutes in general and will be opened to concerns or feedback from faculty.