UW News

September 26, 2018

Significant gift from Lynn and Howard Behar funds new UW School of Social Work Center for Integrative Oncology and Palliative Care Social Work

UW News

A substantial gift from Lynn and Howard Behar will expand the University of Washington School of Social Work’s support for the next generation of oncology social work scholars by providing funds to launch a new Center for Integrative Oncology and Palliative Care Social Work.

The Center will take a social justice approach to oncology and palliative care services, with a commitment to addressing documented health disparities in cancer and end-of-life care based on race and ethnicity, disability, gender and sexual identity, geographic location, income or education.

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Howard and Lynn BeharMel Curtis

This most recent gift from the Behars, along with state and School matching funds, brings the total support to the Center to more than $2,465,000. The Behar’s contribution will help support an endowed research acceleration fund, an endowed professorship and an endowed scholarship program for students.

“Creative collaborations between our faculty and generous philanthropists, such as the Behars, allow us to develop cutting-edge programs that have a positive and sustained impact, while preparing a new generation of social work practitioners in oncology and palliative care,” said Eddie Uehara, dean of the UW School of Social Work.

The Behars have a long and continuous record of providing generous financial support to the School of Social Work. Lynn Behar received both her master’s degree and doctorate in social work from the UW. In 2005, the couple made the first of several philanthropic gifts to the School, endowing a new scholarship fund to train oncology social workers. Called the Carol LaMare Scholars Program, the program is named in honor of Lynn’s mother, who died of cancer in 2005. In its early years, the program provided mentorship and scholarship support for MSW students specializing in oncology social work. In 2010, additional support from the Behars enabled the Carol LaMare Scholars Program to expand to include support for doctoral students as well.

The program has become a national model for oncology and palliative care for social work education. To date, 94 students have received scholarships: About 30 percent of them are people of color and 10 percent are cancer survivors. Graduates will serve cancer survivors and their families, especially as cancer increasingly becomes a chronic condition instead of a terminal diagnosis.

“There are groups of people who live with cancer for years and have to be monitored,” said Taryn Lindhorst, a professor of social work at the UW. She specializes in end-of-life issues, oncology and palliative care, and she will serve as the first Behar Professor in Integrative Oncology and Palliative Care Social Work. “What we think of as survivorship in the cancer world is living this whole new life with cancer as a constant companion.”

Scholarship recipients receive intensive mentoring through a year-long clinical seminar in addition to practicum placements in more than a dozen local cancer, intensive care unit, hospice and palliative care settings. Demand for Carol LaMare Scholars Program oncology and palliative care social workers is particularly high, and its graduates can be found at prominent treatment centers in Seattle and beyond.

A noted scholar in her own right, Lynn Behar takes a personal interest in each student, meeting with them throughout their education and providing ongoing mentorship after they graduate.

Behar is co-editor of “The Handbook of Oncology Social Work,” published by Oxford University Press in 2015. Co-edited with Grace Christ and Carolyn Messner, this book is the first comprehensive book for oncology social workers focusing on patient- and family-centered care and how to integrate psychosocial care with medical treatment.


For more information, contact Jackson Holtz, 206-543-2580 or jjholtz@uw.edu.