UK’s Office of China Initiatives Hits its Stride

photo of students in UKCI & OCI Summer Language Academy
photo of BIT Zhuhai students at UKCI & OCI Summer Language Academy
photo of UK faculty at QUT - UK Faculty Teach in China Program
photo of UK Faculty Teach in China Program - JLU

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 16, 2017) The University of Kentucky Office of China Initiatives (OCI) was established in 2014, as an outcome of strategic discussions within the UK International Center and a recommendation from UK’s International Advisory Council. The OCI’s mission is to provide leadership in identifying, cultivating, building and sustaining UK partnerships with Chinese institutions.

Huajing Maske, the award-winning director of the UK Confucius Institute, serves as the executive director of the OCI. This year, the OCI expanded its presence on campus and in China through the introduction of new programs and opportunities. Also this year, the OCI welcomed Kathryn T. Bliss as its first ever coordinator. Bliss oversees daily OCI operations from her office at 108 Bradley Hall in the International Center and works closely with Maske.

The OCI seeks to strengthen UK’s brand name recognition in China and to link UK Confucius Institute-related opportunities to broader UK international strategies and initiatives. Strategic partnerships with Chinese institutions create opportunities for students and faculty both at UK and in China. The OCI works closely with UK colleges and offices to engage UK students, faculty and the Commonwealth in collaborations with China.

Along with its efforts to advance UK’s research and scholarship about China, the OCI also provides customized support to Chinese students and scholars throughout their time at UK and beyond, to ensure their academic success, integration and belonging. Furthermore, the OCI will be developing new UK activities in China, such as graduation-related events and alumni programming, as well as pre-departure orientations in China for Chinese international students.

To date, Bliss has collaborated with the UKCI to facilitate the UK Faculty Teach in China Program at Jilin University (JLU) and Qingdao University of Technology (QUT); served as lead organizer of the OCI and UKCI Summer Language Academy; coordinated a UK delegation visit to the Beijing Institute of Technology at Zhuhai (BIT Zhuhai); and worked with UK students interested in applying for the Chinese Government Scholarship

Summer 2017 saw the second largest number of UK faculty teach in China (29 UK faculty were sent to teach in China by UKCI in 2012). In collaboration with the UKCI, the OCI worked with 13 UK faculty members to facilitate their participation in UK Education Week @ Jilin University, a signature program for both JLU and UKCI. During this summer teaching program, UK faculty members from several academic disciplines taught classes for first- and second-year JLU students, provided pedagogical workshops for JLU faculty, gave TED Talk-style presentations and participated in numerous cultural activities.

Furthermore, in collaboration with the UKCI, the OCI facilitated another summer teaching experience for three UK instructors who traveled to QUT. While there, the UK instructors taught courses to help new QUT faculty members strengthen their English teaching skills and their knowledge of teaching methods. Both summer teaching experiences are part of the UK Faculty Teach in China Program jointly coordinated by the OCI and the UKCI.  

Also in the summer of 2017, 39 undergraduate students from BIT Zhuhai came to Lexington for the inaugural Summer Language Academy at UK, jointly hosted by the OCI and the UKCI. During the academy, the students took classes in English and in information technology taught by UK College of Arts and Sciences (A&S) instructors. The students also participated in cultural experiences in Lexington and surrounding cities. Following the academy, the group traveled to the East Coast to tour Ivy League schools that are well-known in China. The OCI plans to hold this academy annually, with proceeds going to support student success and faculty teaching and research in China.

The summer academy also serves as a pipeline for Chinese students to UK. Several participants from this summer’s academy expressed interest in applying to UK as full-time students. The academy furthermore solidified the partnership between UK and BIT Zhuhai. In September 2017, a delegation of faculty and staff from UK A&S, Gatton College of Business and Economics and the UK International Center visited BIT Zhuhai to participate in a celebration of this partnership. The UK delegation attended a convocation with approximately 230 BIT Zhuhai faculty and students, including freshmen successfully admitted to and enrolled in the 2+2 Pathway program in American culture and business practices in UK A&S, and in the 2+2 Pathway program in marketing with UK Gatton College.

While the OCI helps bring students from BIT Zhuhai and other Chinese institutions to UK, it also supports UK students in making connections with China. The OCI coordinates application procedures for scholarship opportunities in China, such as the Chinese Government Scholarship, for UK undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students from a variety of academic disciplines. Moreover, the OCI offers programs for UK graduate students to teach at Gaoxin No. 1 High School in Xi’an, China, and at BIT Zhuhai.   

Initiatives currently in development will focus on enhancing and supporting UK Chinese students’ success, UK faculty in their China-related research and teaching, and UK student internship and research opportunities. Other initiatives in development will support and expand the international Chinese student recruitment efforts through articulation agreements. 

For these reasons and more, 2017 has been a banner year for UK’s OCI. The seeds planted by Maske and the International Advisory Council, have borne fruit. Sue Roberts, associate provost for internationalization, reports that she is delighted to see the OCI hitting its stride. “It is wonderful to watch how effective the OCI is in supporting UK’s colleges as they seek to develop their networks with partners in China. It is a pleasure to see the results of the work of the OCI, together with the Confucius Institute, to take UK’s engagements with China to the next level.”   

For additional information about the OCI and its endeavors, contact Huajing Maske at or Kathryn T. Bliss at, or visit the website at Maske’s office is located in the new UK Confucius Institute on the ground level of the Lucille C. Little Fine Arts Library and Learning Center; Bliss is located in 108 Bradley Hall, home of the UK International Center.

UK is the University for Kentucky. At UK, we are educating more students, treating more patients with complex illnesses and conducting more research and service than at any time in our 150-year history. To read more about the UK story and how you can support continued investment in your university and the Commonwealth, go to: #uk4ky #seeblue