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DSU Confucius Institute no more

A Confucius Institute will not be implemented at Dickinson State University, school officials announced Wednesday evening.

"Due to unforeseen circumstances which have developed since the commencement of this partnership, we are unable to properly implement a Confucius Institute at this time," said Marie Moe, DSU director of university relations. "It's truly a matter of where we want to put our energy right now."

The university was awarded the opportunity to establish the institute in April and was given a year to implement it. It would have taught the history, culture and language of China.

"Obviously this year has been full of changes at Dickinson State," Moe said.

Among those changes is the firing of former DSU president Richard McCallum for his role in the inflation of enrollment numbers. D.C. Coston, who had served as the school's acting president, was named as McCallum's replacement. Ongoing investigations on campus have taken place in the last year.

A controversial step from the beginning, the institute was a partnership between DSU along with the China-based Taiyuan University of Technology and the Hanban, which is similar to the U.S. Department of Education, Moe said.

In October, DSU faculty members voted on whether they agreed with having the Confucius Institute.

"I will say that the 'no' came out on top, barely," Michael Cartmill, DSU assistant professor of Spanish, told The Press after the vote.

Faculty concerns also included whether the institute would fail or compete with existing language programs. Despite the outcry, Doug King, associate professor of agriculture, told The Press in October that most teachers he spoke with had a positive reaction to the institute.

"We recognize the benefit of a Confucius Institute to the community and to the region of North Dakota," Moe said Wednesday. "We're really hoping that the Hanban will consider partnering with another school in the university system so that North Dakota still has this great resource for educating students in language and culture and history of China."

Professor Mei Hao, an employee of TUT, has been residing on campus since October, but will soon be headed back to China, Moe said. DSU has provided her housing, transportation and medical insurance.

"I believe at DSU we all deeply value our partners at Taiyuan University of Technology and the Confucius Institute headquarters, the Hanban," said Hal Haynes, vice president for student development. "And we especially value the significant contributions of visiting Professor Mei Hao. We are deeply grateful for her contributions towards enlightening our campus about the history, the culture and the language of China."

It's unclear if DSU will have the opportunity for a Confucius Institute again, but Moe said the school intends to maintain relationships with China.

"There aren't any implications to us for not participating," Moe said.

Haynes said this will not affect DSU's effort to provide a diverse environment.

"DSU will remain deeply committed to globalization," Haynes said.