COLLEGE STATION, Tex. (KBTX) - The Confucius Institute at Texas A&M, a program meant to promote awareness of Chinese culture, is closing in July. The program, funded through a grant, will not be renewed after an open letter was written by two Texas congressmen. The letter warns that the "organizations are a threat to our nation’s security by serving as a platform for China’s intelligence collection and political agenda."
Representative Mike McCaul and Henry Cuellar sent the letter to all universities that host the program.
Courtney Liang, a student at Texas A&M, said she was shocked to hear that the decade old program was coming to an end.
"I was planning on taking some classes through the institute, so when I learned that unfortunately the institute was closing, a lot of us were devastated to hear that," said Liang.
Kendal Gallimore, Texas A&M Program Coordinator for Admissions, also said he's sorry to hear the institute will be shutting their doors.
"This institute is a point of learning and understanding for a lot of students and if that's being cut off, how else are students going to be able to learn about different cultures," said Gallimore.
"They've brought in so many opportunities and it's a way to broaden our different cultures and see what's out there. It really is sad, but there are other ways to immerse yourself in different cultures," said Liang.
According to a statement by Dr. Michael Benedik, the Vice Provost & Chief International Officer, and Chad Wootton, the Associate Vice President of External Affairs, since 2008, the Confucius Institute at Texas A&M has been paid for by an annual grant matched by Texas A&M University for community outreach, culture awareness and Chinese language. Officials said the current 5-year agreement with Chinese International Language Council (Hanban) that was signed in 2013 will not be renewed.
Since 2008, the Confucius Institute served as a resource for the university community by increasing cultural, academic and scientific connections with China through study abroad programs, speakers, academic programs and cultural events.
University officials said although the Confucius Institute won't be open, Texas A&M University will continue to offer a variety of community outreach, internal awareness and educational programs.