In the midst of transitioning into a new era, University Health Services solidified a key leadership position Thursday, naming Dr. Sarah Van Orman as its new director of clinical services.

Currently the medical director at the University of Chicago Student Care Center, Orman will supervise UHS physicians, nurses and other health care staff, as well as provide direct medical care to University of Wisconsin students, when she takes over her new position Feb. 5, 2007.

"I've been working in college health for six-and-a-half years, and I'm very passionate about [it]," Orman said in a phone interview Thursday. "The opportunity in taking care of people in their undergraduate and graduate years, helping them become healthier adults as they prepare for their future, is very exciting."

When Orman arrives at UHS, she will find the university health-care provider to be in a period of transition.

Preparing to move into a new facility on University Avenue by 2010, UHS experienced some turmoil last semester when Scott Spear stepped down as director of clinical services to become a UHS general practitioner.

Accused of sexual harassment in 2005, Spear took a two-month paid leave of absence while the university conducted an internal investigation. Though Spear was ultimately cleared of any wrongdoing, UHS Executive Director Kathleen Poi said in a Feb. 14 interview with The Badger Herald that "communication issues" lingered within many UHS departments when Spear returned from his absence.

After Spear stepped down last February, Poi took over as director of clinical services in the interim, while keeping her position as executive director.

Now with the position filled permanently, Poi said she is optimistic about moving forward with Orman onboard at UHS.

"She's an excellent leader in college health, and she'll bring her great skill to the position," Poi said in a phone interview Thursday. "We're very glad she accepted the position."

UHS selected Orman over one other finalist, Poi added, saying only that he was a "local member of the department of family medicine."

The biggest challenge Orman will face, according to both herself and Poi, is the shift from the relatively small campus of the University of Chicago — enrollment: 13,400 — to one as large as UW — enrollment: 41,466.

"One of the unique things about colleges and universities, and therefore college health, is that every campus has its own culture, its own characteristics and needs," Orman said. "A lot of what I need to do is get to know the staff at UHS and get to know the students to better know what their needs are."

Though she is excited to come to UW, Orman admitted she is also a little nervous.

"I'm a little bit of both," Orman said. "But I've certainly heard wonderful things about the University of Wisconsin and the health service, and I think it's going to be a great place."