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Victim Studies
Gets $1 Million Grant

With $1 million in its bank account and the approval process for a new degree in victim studies under way, the National Institute for Victim Studies at Sam Houston State University is in business.

On August 30 Sam Houston State University received a $1 million grant from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to fund the institute. On August 31 the university received approval from its board of regents, pending final approval by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, to offer the new undergraduate degree.

The institute represents a unique partnership between academia, Sam Houston State University, and a highly-respected non-profit crime victim organization, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). The institute opened in 1995 at the University of North Texas and was moved to SHSU in 1999.

"As the largest crime victim organization in the country, MADD is very excited to partner with Sam Houston State University in extending and broadening the scope of services available to victims of crime nationwide. This grant will enable the National Institute for Victim Studies to move forward in its mission," said Millie I. Webb, national president of MADD."

Support for the new program has been encouraging, with Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, and her staff instrumental in securing the grant award.

Acting director of the National Institute for Victim Studies is James W. Marquart, professor of Criminal Justice. According to Marquart, the mission of the institute is to promote national public awareness and understanding of victim issues, and to prepare victim services professionals through academic programs, continuing education, and scholarly research.

"This partnership between the academic community and victim services practitioners brings crime victim advocacy and administration to a new level of professionalism," said Marquart.

The institute will serve a national constituency of professionals and volunteers engaged in victim services delivery and sponsor a variety of professional development opportunities for crime victim services practitioners. These range from short seminars to full courses for victim-witness coordinators, victim advocates and other victim service specialists. The institute emphasizes professional development in the area of management.

Housing the institute on the SHSU campus also presents an opportunity for faculty and doctoral students interested in victim studies to interact and coordinate research efforts.

In addition to theoretical and basic research regarding victims of crime and victim services delivery, emphasis will be placed on applied research directly related to implementing professional development programs, as well as evaluation of victim services delivery.

SHSU currently offers courses on child abuse and neglect, family violence, and victimology. While housed in the Criminal Justice Center on the SHSU campus, the institute is expected to include participation by the university's other colleges in its research and programming.

"The institute promotes national public awareness and understanding of victim issues," said Marquart. "It seeks to translate research into practice, disseminate timely information, and provide state-of-the-art technical assistance to victim service providers and allied professionals."

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SHSU Media Contact: Frank Krystyniak
September 15, 2000
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