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Diane Follingstad Named Executive Director of Center for Research on Violence Against Women

by Keith Hautala

(April 21, 2014) — The University of Kentucky's Center for Research on Violence Against Women is under new leadership, and its new director says the center will focus its efforts to promote violence prevention research.

Diane FollingstadDiane R. Follingstad, the center's Women’s Circle Endowed Chair and a professor in the UK Department of Psychiatry with a joint appointment in the Department of Psychology, took on the role of executive director April 1, pending confirmation of her appointment by the university's Board of Trustees. A clinical and forensic psychologist specializing in partner abuse and battered women’s legal cases, Follingstad has been with the center since 2008.

The former director of the center, Carol Jordan, is leaving to head the Institute for Policy Studies on Violence Against Women in the UK College of Arts and Sciences.

"We have an incredible leadership team of endowed chairs and an endowed professor," Follingstad said.  "With the center now under faculty leadership, we are recommitting ourselves to our primary mission, which is research."

As director, Follingstad heads the center's executive committee, which includes the following chairs and professors:

Follingstad says the center will be reviewing its strategies for promoting and supporting research in the area of violence against women and its prevention. Center faculty are active in applying for grant funding, and in finding structured ways to expand their roles as mentors for students and faculty across campus who have parallel interests. 

"We are interested in promoting the next generation of scholars who will conduct research in the area of violence against women,” she said. "Our emphasis is on finding ways we can be most effective in scholarship. Part of that is letting people know that we're here and informing the university community and public about all the work we do."

Toward that end, the center is working to strengthen existing relationships and to build new ones within the community. This fall, the center will host an open house event for UK administrators and faculty, state officials, advocacy organizations, and other community leaders. The center is also in the process of updating its website.

Ongoing projects include a scientific workshop focusing on prevention research that will take place in May in Northern Virginia, organized by Renzetti and jointly funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Justice, and several NIH/CDC-funded research projects, including a $2.4 million study led by Coker and Follingstad that is following teens who were exposed to the "Green Dot" prevention program from high school into young adulthood.

Established in 2003, the Center for Research on Violence Against Women is committed to advancing research into the legal and clinical complexities presented by intimate partner violence, rape, stalking and related experiences for women, and is dedicated to preventing violence and to enhancing the welfare and safety of those affected by violence through research, scholarship and public service.

The center is located at 108 Bowman Hall, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY  40506. For more information about the center and its ongoing work, click here, email or phone 859-257-2737.