To the editor:
Robert Hemenway’s time as chancellor of Kansas University is drawing to a close. In recent weeks, numerous organizations and individuals have publicly honored him for things he has done. In early May, there was a KU goodbye event at the Lied Center. The Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth awarded him an outstanding service medal, and the Kansas Legislature passed a resolution praising his leadership.
There has not been, however, a public announcement about Hemenway receiving an award from the Chinese government for his service in support of their global Confucius Institute program. That program, designed to create favorable attitudes about China’s authoritarian government around the world, has benefited greatly from Hemenway’s decision to let the Chinese use the KU brand name in their public relations campaign.
I have been critical of his decision to place KU in the service of the Chinese government. I agree with the KU faculty members who have told me that KU’s Confucius Institute on the Edwards Campus is an “abomination” and a black mark against KU’s academic integrity. But I also think that, because Hemenway has stood by the Chinese government and refused to criticize brutal Chinese behavior in Tibet and elsewhere, he deserves an award and an expression of gratitude from that government.
I suggest that both the current and former directors of the KU Confucius Institute look into this matter and ensure that Hemenway does not leave Strong Hall feeling that the Chinese government does not appreciate all that he has done to advance its interests.