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Charles Grassley
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, looks at Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., during a markup hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee as they prepare to vote on the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan on Capitol Hill in Washington Tuesday, July 20, 2010. Sen. Graham was the only republican to vote to approve Kagan's nomination which passed 13-6. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa --- The Center for Violence Prevention officially opened its doors Friday on the University of Northern Iowa campus.

But for the center's director, Annette Lynch, the day was years in the making. Lynch, also a UNI professor, has been working on violence prevention topics through Department of Justice grants for more than a decade. It is her work, along with that of others on campus and around the state, which laid the groundwork for the center, she said.

However, much of Lynch's work up to this point, like drafting a new sexual misconduct policy for the three state universities, has focused on making the campuses a safe place to live and work. The new center will work to "build capacity in institutes of higher education, K-12 schools, victim service agencies and campus and community police and to identify, develop and infuse national best practice violence prevention strategies and to deliver model victim services," Lynch said.

"Our tendency is to do training and conferences where we can take people who have ordinary jobs that can be enhanced by having a violence prevention component as part of their daily work," she said.

That includes working with all pre-service teachers at UNI to train them to be violence prevention educators in their future schools in Iowa and across the country.

"The opening of this center presents this university ... with the opportunity to impact the lives of its students, faculty, staff, the people of Iowa and people of other states," Sen. Charles Grassley said during the opening ceremony.

Alan Heisterkamp, director of the Mentors of Violence Prevention Institute, said one goal is to create community spaces where people can safely discuss issues surrounding violence prevention.

The center currently receives funding from the Department of Justice Violence Against Women Office, the Iowa Department of Public Health, the Waitt Institute for Violence Prevention in Sioux City and private funds like the $10,000 presented Friday from the Verizon Foundation.

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