Board of Regents approve new Confucius Institute building

Jessica Voorhees

The Board of Regents discussed the design and construction of a new Confucius Institute building Friday morning during its first meeting of 2015. 

The building will be located on Normal Drive adjacent to the Honors College and International Building. 

President Gary Ransdell said the university received an award of $1.5 million from the Chinese Education Ministry and the university will provide an additional $800,000 from private funds to finance the project. 

WKU submitted a document concerning the programs involved with the Confucius Institute to the Hanban, the Confucius Institute Headquarters in China, which selected WKU to receive funding.

The Hanban selected 10 universities worldwide, but only two in the U.S. 

Faculty Regent Barbara Burch opposed the construction of the new building.

“I think it’s very important we understand how we need it and how it’s going to be used,” Burch said. “I thought use dictated design. I’m struggling with what’s going to make it uniquely needed.”

Ransdell said the building will provide classroom, gallery and resource space for Chinese teachers and students to utilize. 

He said the Chinese Learning Center will remain in Helm Library, but the offices for the Confucius Institute will move to the new building to allow for multipurpose space. 

Ransdell said the building will be about 7,000 square feet. 

“It’s a modest project but one I believe is important symbolically and pragmatically in building our Chinese relations,” he said. 

Except for Burch’s opposition and John Ridley’s abstention, the rest of the Board approved the motion to construct the building. 

The Board also approved sabbatical leave for 14 faculty members and emeritus status to four others, and approved new degrees, such as a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing.

The Board unanimously approved a Master of Fine Arts degree type and a MFA in Creative Writing program. 

Rob Hale, head of the department of English, said he was excited about the MFA program, which will be implemented this fall. 

The program will prepare students to become proficient writers of novels, short fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry and scripts. 

“One of the niches we’re going for is script writing to get some cooperation with the film program,” Hale said. 

The Board approved additional academic programs, such as a master’s in Gifted Education and Talent Development, a Bachelor of Science in Special Education: Learning and Behavioral Disorders and Elementary Education, and a minor in Psychological Science. 

The Board will convene for its second quarterly meeting on April 24.