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Published: Wednesday, 12/21/2005

$125,000 boost to let UT center hire leader


Within a year of receiving a $500,000 federal grant, the National Center for Parents at the University of Toledo has received another major boost: $125,000 from the UT foundation to help in hiring its first full-time executive director.

Foundation members recently approved the donation for the center, which has been managed by a part-time director who's had other duties at the university.

Those affiliated with the center, which researches factors that affect the role of parents in society, said the addition of a full-time director will be an impetus for increasing research and related funding for the program.

A national search will be conducted with a goal of having someone in place by July 1.

"We are looking for someone who can propel the National

Center for Parents to national prominence," said Barbaranne Benjamin, the center's interim part-time director and associate dean for research and graduate education at the college of health and human services, which houses the center.

The center, which is now two years old and took years to create, received its first major funding last December with the announcement of the $500,000 federal grant. Plans called for the money to support a study of mothers who are involved in the criminal justice system.

To date, more than 300 mothers have been interviewed, Ms. Benjamin said, by a team of about six UT faculty members and eight graduate assistants. The interview process is expected to last until next summer, she said.

"We're asking questions about health, education, and services," she said. "We're beginning to see some things emerging from the women."

Ultimately, center leaders envision stimulating change on the national level with the studies, said Lucas County Juvenile Court Judge James Ray, who serves on its board.

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