skip navigation

Professor Zhiqiang Liu Appointed Director of UB Confucius Institute

Buffalo, N.Y. – Zhiqiang Liu, associate professor of economics at the University at Buffalo, has been named director of the University at Buffalo Confucius Institute (UBCI).

Established in 2009, UBCI supports China-related research and artistic production at UB, Chinese language teaching at the university and in local schools, and cultural events that foster a better understanding of Chinese traditions and contemporary culture throughout Western New York.

Stephen C. Dunnett, professor and vice provost for international education and chair of the UBCI board of advisors, said, “We are very pleased that Zhiqiang Liu has been appointed director of the Confucius Institute. Professor Liu is a prominent scholar in his field and maintains an active research agenda with a focus on the Chinese economy. He is in an excellent position to direct the work of the institute moving forward.”

UBCI is housed within the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) at UB. Liu was appointed to the position by Robin Schulze, professor and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

The Confucius Institute also works in collaboration with Capital Normal University, one of UB’s long-time partners in Beijing. A board of advisors consisting of faculty and administrators from UB and Capital Normal University oversees the work of the institute. Major funding is provided by Hanban/Confucius Institute Headquarters in China and the University at Buffalo.

Professor Liu succeeds Professor Dunnett, who served as interim director following the untimely death in November 2016 of former director and professor of philosophy Jiyuan Yu. Liu said, “I am honored to be appointed director of the Confucius Institute. My good friend and colleague Jiyuan Yu did exceptional work to build the Institute into a prominent center for teaching and research about China at UB and in the community. I look forward to building on the significant accomplishments of the previous directors and dedicated staff to further strengthen the Confucius Institute as a dynamic and effective academic unit.”

Professor Liu’s research interests include applied microeconomics, economic growth and development, the economics of crime, and the Chinese economy. He has published numerous articles in leading economics journals, including Economic Development and Cultural Change, Journal of Comparative Economics, Journal of Development Economics, Journal of Economic Geography, Journal of Law and Economics, Journal of Political Economy, and Journal of Urban Economics, among others. He has served on the board of directors and board of regents of the Chinese Economists Society. He also sits on an advisory committee of the Natural Science Foundation of China. He is currently on the editorial board of China Economic Review.

Professor Liu has been on the faculty in UB’s Department of Economics since 2000. Prior to joining UB, he was lecturer of economics at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.  He is also special-term professor and deputy director of the China Center for Human Capital and Labor Market Research at Central University of Finance and Economics in Beijing. He earned an MBA and a PhD from UB and a B.S. from Tianjin University.

The UB Confucius Institute is part of a network of more than 500 such institutes around the world. In December 2016, UBCI was named “Confucius Institute of the Year” at the annual Confucius Institute Global Conference in Kunming, China.

Professor Dunnett said, “The Confucius Institute has been very effective in supporting teaching and research about China at UB, and this development was specifically noted by Hanban when it named UBCI a Confucius Institute of the Year. Our partners in China look forward to supporting Professor Liu in his efforts to further expand the programs and increase the impact of UBCI on campus and in the community.”

UBCI Honored as Confucius Institute of the Year

The University at Buffalo Confucius Institute (UBCI) has been named the “Confucius Institute of the Year” by Hanban/Confucius Institute Headquarters, which administers more than 500 such institutes worldwide.

Stephen C. Dunnett, vice provost for international education and chair of the UBCI board of directors, accepted the award on Dec. 10 at the annual Confucius Institute Global Conference in Kunming, China.

The award was presented by Liu Yandong, vice premier of the State Council, China, and chair of the Council of the Confucius Institute Headquarters.

The award recognizes UBCI for its efforts to develop programs to support UB research and teaching relating to China. Academic-focused programs supported by the Confucius Institute include scholarships and fellowships to study and conduct research in China; funding for conferences and symposia; funding for new China-related courses; master’s degree and teacher certification programs in Chinese language pedagogy in the Graduate School of Education; visiting professors to teach China-focused courses at UB; a lecture series featuring prominent scholars in the field of China studies from across North America and China; and annual contributions of books and online databases to the UB Libraries.

“This honor is a tribute to the leadership of UBCI’s late director, Professor Jiyuan Yu, who passed away in November after a long bout with cancer,” Dunnett said. “As director, Professor Yu worked tirelessly and effectively to expand the institute’s impact within the College of Arts and Sciences and across UB. I very much regret that he did not live to see the UBCI receive the award he did so much to earn.”

Dunnett also praised the contribution of UBCI associate directors Qiaomei (Maggie) Lu, who also attended the ceremony, and Bruce Acker.

He was accompanied to Kunming by Joseph Hindrawan, associate vice provost for international education and director of UB’s China programs. Also attending the award ceremony were representatives from Capital Normal University (CNU), UB’s Chinese partner in administering UBCI: President Gong Huili, Dean Liu Xiaotian and Associate Dean Han Mei.

UBCI was established in collaboration with CNU and Hanban in 2010, with the agreements authorizing UBCI being renewed in 2015. In addition to its academic focus at the university, UBCI’s other major projects include placing 15 language teachers from China in local K-12 schools for periods of two to three years; organizing an annual Chinese New Year celebration in the UB Center for the Arts in conjunction with the Chinese Club of Western New York; organizing performances and lectures for fall celebrations of the Moon Festival and International Education Week; and administering standardized Chinese language tests for students of all ages.

Confucius Institute Mourns the Loss of Professor Jiyuan Yu

The Confucius Institute at the University at Buffalo mourns the death of Professor Jiyuan Yu,  a world-renowned professor of philosophy and director of the  Confucius Institute at University at Buffalo. Professor Yu passed away Thursday, November 3, 2016, at the Hospice in Buffalo, New York. He was 52.

Obituaries in Chinese and photos from Professor Yu’s life have been compiled by friends in China and can be read at this link.

Professor Yu will be remembered at a memorial service celebrating his life and accomplishments on Friday, February 3, 2017, 3:00-4:30 pm, in the University at Buffalo Center for the Arts, with a reception to follow.

Professor Yu was an outstanding director of UB’s Confucius Institute. Under his leadership, the Institute developed a stronger academic focus, with many of its activities and resources directed toward promoting programs for UB students, faculty and the UB libraries, while still maintaining the Institute’s commitment to providing Chinese teachers for local schools.  He was a kind, generous and highly ethical man and a noted scholar in his field.  He will be greatly missed by us all.

Born in China, Professor Yu was considered a prodigy. At the age of 15, he was admitted to Shandong University, one of the best universities in China, to major in philosophy. After completing his undergraduate degree, he went on to pursue his Master’s degree at Renmin University in Beijing. In 1989, he left China to study at Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa in Italy.  He received his doctoral degree from the University of Guelph in Canada. After a three year post as research fellow at the University of Oxford in England (1994-1997), he joined the Department of Philosophy at UB in 1997.

Dr. Yu was a renowned philosopher, thinker, and gentleman, but foremost a teacher, scholar, and leader. He received the University’s Exceptional Scholar (Young Investigator) Award in 2002, the College of Arts and Sciences Excellence in Teaching Award in 2002, and the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2010. He was a Fellow at the National Humanities Center in 2003-4, and a Fellow at the UB Humanities Institute in 2008. He was also a Changjiang Professor (a highly esteemed title given to young accomplished scholars by the Chinese Ministry of Education) at Shandong University (Jinan, China).  For the past few years, he has served as Director of the Confucius Institute which, under his leadership, has contributed greatly to building a cultural bridge between China and the United States, and particularly the Western New York region.

Dr. Yu devoted his life to scholarship and service in the field of philosophy. His primary areas of research and teaching were Ancient Greek Philosophy and Ancient Chinese Philosophy. He served on many editorial boards, including History of Philosophy Quarterly, Journal of Chinese Philosophy, World Philosophy, Frontiers of Philosophy in China, and the Chinese translation of the Complete Works of Aristotle. He was a member of the Advisory Committee for the program of the American Philosophical Association and a member of the American Committee of the Philosophy Summer School (Chinese-English-America). He was President and Executive Director of the International Society for Chinese Philosophy (ISCP:

His contributions and accomplishments in Philosophy were outstanding. He was a prolific writer. His major publications in English include five books: The Structure of Being in Aristotle’s Metaphysics (Dordrecht: Kluwer, 2003); The Ethics of Confucius and Aristotle: Mirrors of Virtue (New York/London: Routledge, 2007); The Blackwell Dictionary of Western Philosophy (co-authored with Nick Bunnin, Oxford: Blackwell, 2004); Rationality and Happiness: from the Ancients to the Early Medievals (co-edited with Jorge Gracia, University of Rochester Press, 2003) and Uses and Abuses of the Classics: Western Interpretation of Greek Philosophy (co-edited with Jorge Gracia, London: Ashgate, 2004).

Professor Yu’s books in Chinese include: Aristotle’s Ethics (Renmin University Press, 2011); Plato’s Republic (Renmin University Press, 1st edition 2008, and 2nd edition, 2011); A Dictionary of Western Philosophy: English and Chinese (co-authored with Nick Bunnin, People’s Press, 2001); Frontiers in Western Philosophy (co-ed with Zhiwei Zhang, Beijing: Renmin University Press, 2008); The Complete Works of Aristotle (Chinese Translation), vol. 1 (with Miao Litian, etc. Beijing: Renmin University Press, 1991); Plato and Aristotle (with Tian Shizhang, Taipei: Book Fountain Press, 1992); and Greek Philosophy (with Miao Litian, Renmin University Press, 1991). In addition, he has published nearly 70 refereed journal articles and book chapters in English and Chinese combined.

During his days combatting colon cancer, Dr. Yu used his philosophical wisdom to keep a very positive view of his life. “When it comes, it comes,” said Dr. Yu. “As a philosopher, I’ve been very calm. Doctors find it amazing” said Dr. Yu, in a conversation with a close friend, “What’s important is not to live but to live well. To live well means to live happily.” Family and friends found a smile on his face when he bid goodbye to his life on earth.

UB Confucius Institute Sponsors Lecture by President of the International Society for Chinese Philosophy

On Thursday, April 28, the University at Buffalo Confucius Institute presented a talk in its Distinguished Lecture Series by Professor Chenyang Li, professor and founding director of the Philosophy Program at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. Professor Li spoke about the Confucian concept of xiao (孝), which has generally been translated into English as “filial piety.” Professor Li argued that the term should best be translated as “filial love,” because it describes and prescribes the kind of love people ought to practice directly toward their parents and, by extension, toward family members of older generations.

Virtuous people, said Li, should respect and assist their parents out of filial love. They should not need obligation to compel them to act in a filial way. Only when love is not strong enough does xiao become more like an obligation to serve parents.

Professor Li’s research interests include Chinese philosophy and comparative philosophy. Among his publication are The Confucian Philosophy of Harmony (2013), The Tao Encounters the West: Explorations in Comparative Philosophy (1999), The Sage and the Second Sex: Confucianism, Ethics, and Gender (ed. 2000), The East Asian Challenge for Democracy: Political Meritocracy in Comparative Perspective (co-ed. With Daniel A. Bell, 2013), and Moral Cultivation and Confucian Character (co-ed with Peimin Ni), and more than 100 journal articles and book chapters.

Professor Li was elected president of the International Society for Chinese Philosophy in 2015. In 2015-16, he was a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. From 1999-2010, he served as professor and chair of the Department of Philosophy at Central Washington University.

Confucius Institute Celebrates the Year of the Monkey

The University at Buffalo’s Confucius Institute and the Chinese Club of Western New York (CCWNY) presented their sixth annual Chinese New Year celebration on Feb. 7 from 2:30-5:00 at UB’s Center for the Arts (CFA).

The free and popular event filled the CFA’s main stage theater, providing impressive performances that illuminated the beauty of Chinese art, culture, and language through music, dance, comedy, and martial arts.

The Chinese New Year is based on the Chinese lunar calendar. Each annual cycle is represented by one of the twelve animals in the Chinese zodiac, with 2016 representing the year of the monkey.

“The New Year celebration is for Chinese people, but it is also for many Asian people, and for people in WNY and across America,” says Jiyuan Yu, UB philosophy professor and Director of the Confucius Institute. “It is becoming a global event.”

In all, about 140 K-12 students from schools affiliated with the Confucius Institute performed on stage, along with approximately Chinese Club members from a variety of dance and chorus groups.

To kick off the event, a traditional lion dance was performed by members of the Gold Summit Martial Arts Institute in the Center for the Arts Atrium. Traditionally associated with good luck, the lion also made an impressive appearance during the show, with gongs and a large drum banging out the music.

As part of the opening ceremony, the Confucius Institute presented 12 students with Awards for Excellence in Chinese Language Learning. The students represented local schools that have developed Chinese language programs with Confucius Institute guest teachers or local Chinese language teachers.

The awardees are: Anya Acharya (Nichols School), Hope Choolokian (Niagara Catholic High School), Aaron Felong (St. Benedict School), Nicholas Gorman (City Honors School), Eddie Halady (Nichols School), Hannah Keller (City Honors School), Evert Owen (Lewiston Porter High School), Carlie Porter (Elmwood Franklin School), Stephen Rhodenizer (Lewiston Porter High School), Helena Schmitt (East Aurora High School), Anne Townsend (Nardin Academy), and Margaret Werner (Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart).

Other highlights included:

  • A performance of the popular song “Jasmine Flower” by the student chorus at Fletcher Elementary School in the City of Tonawanda;
  • A powerful duet, “The China Style,” by two outstanding Chinese language students at City Honors School;
  • Musical performances by the orchestra and choir from Lewiston Porter High School;
  • A martial arts demonstration by the Gold Summit Martial Arts Institute, with Shifu Erin Markle leading students in various kung-fu styles, including the monkey style in honor of the new year of the monkey;
  • A masterful performance of “Peacock under the Moonlight” for Hulusi, Violin, and Cello by Guojun Yang, Eric Yang, and David Su;
  • Outstanding choral arrangements of “Crescent Moon” and “The Shores of Lake Baikal” by the Chinese Club’s men’s chorus and mixed chorus;
  • A closing dance “The Red Sorghums” performed by the CCWNY Women’s Dance Club.

The Confucius Institute would like to thank the leaders of the Chinese Club of Western New York and the Center for the Arts production crew for their excellent work on this New Year celebration.

Confucius Institute publishes 2016 prospectus

The University at Buffalo Confucius Institute (UBCI) has published its 2016 Prospectus. The document outlines 2016 programs in UBCI’s three major areas of work: (1) as an educational resource center to help Western NY K-12 schools and UB develop Chinese language programs; (2) as a community cultural center to foster a better understanding of Chinese cultural traditions and contemporary China; and (3) as a de facto center for China Studies at UB to develop and support academic research and artistic production on campus.

In addition to ongoing programs like the K-12 guest teacher program, Chinese New Year and Moon Festival celebrations, and the Distinguished Lecture Series, in 2016 UBCI is supporting and organizing, for example:

  • A “Chinese Bridge” study tour for local school administrators and teachers
  • academic symposia in contemporary Chinese art, Chinese views of the global order, and urban planning
  • A residency by HT Chen & Dancers at Nichols School, culminating in a public performance of “South of Gold Mountain” at Nichols School on March 12
  • A roundtable on U.S.-China economic relations
  • A symposium on the UB-China Academic Relationship in Honor of UB Vice Provost for International Education and UBCI Board Co-chair Stephen C. Dunnett

This is just a sample of UBCI’s activity in 2016. Please read the prospectus and look through the website to find out more.

Click here to read the prospectus and find out what’s ahead for UBCI in 2016.

Questions? Call 716-645-9090 or email

Professor George Lee Recognized for pioneering work developing UB relationships in China

When George C. Lee, PhD, traveled to China in spring 1980 as the new dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, he encountered a community of students and professors eager to engage in academic exchange with Americans. On that first trip, Professor Lee gave six 3-hour talks on the American educational system over three days to large and enthusiastic university audiences in Beijing.

Lee represented UB in China at the request of President Robert L. Ketter soon after Premier Deng Xiaoping announced China’s “opening up” policy in 1978. On that first visit, Lee signed a historic exchange agreement with Beijing Polytechnic University, making UB the first U.S. university to establish formal ties in China following the normalization of U.S.-China relations in 1979. Further negotiations progressed rapidly, and in 1981 President Ketter visited Beijing to sign a comprehensive educational exchange agreement with the Beijing Municipal System of Higher Education.

On May 5, 2015, the UB Confucius Institute organized a symposium honoring George Lee’s pioneering work in developing the UB-China relationship and presented him with the prestigious Confucius Educator Award. The symposium, which was co-sponsored by the Office of the Vice Provost for International Education, was held in the Honors College Seminar Room in Capen Hall and continued with a reception in the Kaveeshwar Gallery in the President’s Suite.

In his welcoming remarks, UB Confucius Institute Director and Professor of Philosophy Jiyuan Yu, PhD, said the symposium would be the first in a series to honor UB faculty who have played central roles in developing UB’s strong and fruitful relationships with China. The Confucius Institute is planning these events to celebrate the vision and accomplishments of these prominent individuals, encourage like-minded UB community members to continue in their footsteps, and contribute to UB’s further internationalization.

In his talk at the symposium, Lee recalled the enthusiastic audiences for those first presentations at Beijing Polytechnic University (now Beijing University of Science and Technology). Many students wanted to study in the U.S., and soon UB, followed by other U.S. universities, was able to admit some of China’s most promising scholars into PhD programs in engineering and the natural sciences.

After that groundbreaking trip, Lee encouraged Stephen C. Dunnett, PhD, who as a young assistant professor had recently founded UB’s English Language Institute, to set up an English language center in Beijing.

Dunnett heeded Lee’s call, and in 1981 UB established the first American-run English language center in China on the campus of the Beijing Normal College of Foreign Languages. UB’s training center prepared the first wave of more than 100 young Chinese scholars for graduate study and training in Buffalo.

At the symposium, Dunnett described Lee as a “visionary” who saw “the extraordinary potential that China represented, not only for itself but also for UB.” Dunnett lauded Lee’s in-depth understanding of Chinese culture and politics, which facilitated UB’s successful entry into China.

Shortly after the establishment of UB’s English Language Training Center in Beijing, the UB School of Management was invited by the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Chinese government to launch the first U.S. MBA program in China, which opened in 1984 at Dalian University of Technology.

John M. Thomas, PhD, dean emeritus of the UB School of Management and director of the HSBC Center for Global Leadership, was the central figure in development of the MBA program in Dalian. In his presentation, Thomas reflected on the characteristics of Lee’s work that helped make UB’s efforts in China so fruitful. Thomas said, “His legacy is one of outstanding research in his field of engineering together with the practical, administrative leadership necessary that has made the 1980 agreement so important to the international visibility and reputation of UB.”

Thomas was followed in the symposium by Andrew Whittaker, PhD, professor and chair of the Department of Civil, Structural, and Environmental Engineering. Whittaker reviewed Lee’s major career accomplishments, many of which continue to involve scholars from China and other countries of Asia.

Lee’s awards and citations include the Superior Accomplishment Award from the National Science Foundation and the Newmark Medal of the American Society of Civil Engineers. Most recently, Lee received a 2006 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring.

Whittaker noted with amazement Lee’s research funding as principal investigator over the course of his career, which has totaled $116 million.

In addition to serving as dean from 1978-1995, Lee was chair of the Department of Civil Engineering (1974-77) and director of the Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research (MCEER) (1992-2003). He has been funded by the National Science Foundation since 1992 to organize annual United States-China Protocol meetings on cooperative research on earthquake engineering, and by the Federal Highway Administration to organize annual bi-lateral workshops on bridge engineering with Japan and China.

In more than 50 years of service at SUNY at Buffalo, Lee has mentored 20 postdoctoral fellows, supported over 30 international visiting scholars and guided nearly 50 PhD students and 75 MS students.  He has co-authored four books and published more than 250 papers on structural engineering and mechanics, steel structures and earthquake engineering.

His currently funded research projects (NSF and FHWA) include Seismic Design of Structures with Added Response Modification and Isolation Systems, Behavior and Design of Segmental Piers for Accelerated Bridge Construction in Seismic Regions, Development of Multi-hazard Design Principles for Highway Bridges and Bridge Damage Monitoring System.

In presenting the Confucius Educator Award to Lee, UB Confucius Institute Director Yu said the award is presented to individuals who have made long term and significant contributions to promoting Chinese language education, cultural activities and academic exchange. A Confucian educator sees education as a mission that contributes to human well-being. “Such an educator promotes internationalization of education on the belief that every human being is entitled to being educated, and views education as a social duty contributing towards the ends of achieving peace and mutual understanding in the world.” In this sense, Yu concluded, George C. Lee has long been recognized as an eminent Confucian educator.

The impact of Lee’s work on UB’s international profile is nothing short of momentous. In 2014-15, UB enrolls nearly 2,000 students from China and maintains academic and scholarly exchange agreements with 5 Chinese universities. UB has many successful and influential Chinese alumni in China, the U.S., and other countries. China’s former Minister of Education, Dr. Zhou Ji, earned his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees at UB, and the founder of Baidu, Li Yanhong, also studied here.

The UB Confucius Institute, with more than 20,000 Western New Yorkers participating in its programs each year, has benefitted greatly from Lee’s visionary work, and he currently serves on the Confucius Institute board of directors. His groundbreaking work has also helped advance the scholarship of numerous UB students and professors who travel to China each year for collaborative research projects, educational exchange, and language learning.