ST. CLOUD -- St. Cloud State University is celebrating the Chinese New Year as well as the opening of new Confucius classrooms today at Ritsche Auditorium.

The free event celebrating the biggest Chinese celebration of the year begins at 3:00 p.m. today and features several dance performances by the Chinese American Association of Minnesota.

The celebration also will raise awareness of the university's Confucius Institute, which opened last May. The institute's purpose is to promote Chinese language and culture while also bringing more understanding about China to the public.

The institute is opening three new Confucius classrooms at Madison Elementary Guang-Ming Academy in St. Cloud, Lakes International Language Academy in Forest Lake, and the Sauk Rapids-Rice School District.