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Van Orman named University Health Services executive director

June 13, 2008 By Dennis Chaptman

Sarah Van Orman has been selected to lead University Health Services, the campus agency that provides University of Wisconsin–Madison students with health care services, officials announced today (June 13).

"Dr. Van Orman possesses the vision, compassion, specialized skills and the commitment to high-quality care and health education that our students deserve," says Darrell Bazzell, vice chancellor for administration.

The choice represents a promotion for Van Orman, who has served as director of clinical services at UHS since February 2007, and an opportunity to step into the executive director’s job at a key time in its history.

UHS is scheduled to move into a new facility at the redeveloped University Square at 333 East Campus Mall next January. The move will afford students a state-of-the-art health care facility located in a more central and convenient campus location.

Van Orman, who was one of four finalists for the job and the only internal finalist, says that the health of a university’s students is vital to the university’s success.

"Our mission is integral to the academic mission of the campus, because students’ health problems can have a significant impact on their success in school," says Van Orman, a physician who is board-certified in internal medicine and pediatrics. "I’m delighted to be able, along with our dedicated UHS staff, to build on our tradition of treating students and improving the health of the campus."

UHS also takes a strong role in health promotion at an important time in students’ lives, says Van Orman.

"The period between adolescence and adulthood is a critical development time, and it’s our job to help students make that transition successfully," she says.

"The habits they develop during these years can influence their health years from now," she adds. "For example, whether they smoke, how much they exercise and how they manage their stress are all factors in their risk for high blood pressure and heart disease."

Van Orman came to Madison in 2007, following a seven-year stint as medical director for the University of Chicago Student Care Center. She also serves as co-chair of the benchmarking committee of the American College Health Association.

She received her bachelor’s degree in physics at Carleton College in Northfield, Minn., and her medical degree from the Mayo Medical School in Rochester, Minn.

Dean of Students Lori Berquam, who chaired a search committee made up of students, faculty and staff, says Van Orman has demonstrated the knowledge and depth of experience needed to lead UHS into the future.

"She’s very personable and able to work with and build campus and community partnerships to best address the health issues our students face," Berquam says, adding that the search panel did a thorough job identifying well-qualified candidates.

As director of clinical services at UHS, Van Orman was responsible for clinical, financial, educational and administrative aspects of medical services.

UHS provides clinical, counseling and prevention services to UW–Madison students. In the past year, clinicians handled 70,000 appointments there. One of the first university health services founded in the U.S., UHS will celebrate its centennial in 2010.

The executive director, who reports to Bazzell, serves as the chief health officer for the campus and leads the development of university policies and programs that protect and promote the health of members of the university community.

This includes directing the assessment and monitoring of campus health issues and collaborating with state and local officials to develop response to public health emergencies affecting the campus and its students, staff and faculty.

Van Orman’s appointment is effective July 1. She will replace Kathy Poi, who retired last year. Susan Crowley has served as interim executive director. In her new role, Van Orman will earn an annual salary of $180,000.