University of Puget Sound announced today that it has received a $500,000 commitment from Carl and Renee Behnke of Seattle, toward the design and construction of a new Center for Health Sciences.

"The Behnkes have provided invaluable, visionary leadership support to University of Puget Sound for many years, and we are grateful to Carl and Renee for their commitment to this key strategic priority for our campus community," said President Ronald R. Thomas. "The Center for Health Sciences will be unlike any health sciences facility at any other liberal arts college in the nation, building upon Puget Sound's tradition of interdisciplinary innovation. We look forward to providing our students, faculty, and the broader community with a fully integrated clinical, teaching, and research facility." 

The Center for Health Sciences is the centerpiece of both Puget Sound's 20-year master plan for campus development and the academic strategic plan. The venue will combine in one facility the undergraduate research and teaching disciplines of exercise science and psychology with the college's graduate clinical and research studies in occupational and physical therapy. The center will house the interdisciplinary neuroscience program, to be directed by a recently funded endowed chair in that field. It also will provide resources for the university's occupational and physical therapy clinics, which provide more than 300 patients annually with free health care services.

"Through my many years on the board of trustees, I have seen University of Puget Sound grow to become a leading liberal arts college with strong leadership and a compelling vision for preparing students for the future," Carl Behnke said. "Renee and I are very pleased to be able to make this contribution to the new Center for Health Sciences, which will offer extraordinary opportunities for both students and faculty, and support the development of new realms of research and discovery in the health sciences."

Emerging out of the university's comprehensive master plan, the center is being designed by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson of Seattle. Construction is expected to begin in 2010. The facility will be located at the south end of campus, along N.11th Street, with convenient access for clinic patients who are served by students in the occupational and physical therapy programs. Combined with the Commencement Walk landscape element in the university's master plan, the new center will knit the north and south sectors of campus into a unified whole.

Carl Behnke (pictured) is president of R.E.B. Enterprises, and chairman of Sur La Table and the Skinner Corporation. He earned his bachelor's degree from Princeton University and a Master of Business Administration from Harvard University, and has served on the board of trustees for University of Puget Sound since 1985. Behnke is also currently chairman of the board for Pacific Northwest Ballet, a member of the Seattle Rotary Club, and a board member of PONCHO and PACE. He is past president of the Rainier Club.

Renee Behnke is president emeritus of Sur La Table. She was recently honored as Humanitarian of the Year by the Housewares Charity Foundation and served as co-chair of the PONCHO International Wine Auction, which she and Carl founded to raise money for the arts in Seattle. 

Photo: A press-quality photo of Carl Behnke can be downloaded at: