The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Personnel Shift at Health Center

3 min read


After over thirty years under the same direction, the Health Department at the University of Mary Washington will go through an administrative transition. Ilma Overman, former University Physician and Director of the UMW Health Center, officially retires her position in March.
The University welcomes P. Thomas Riley to take over Overman’s position as he new UMW Physician and Health Center Director.
The University’s need to fill its job vacancy has given Riley little time to transition, keeping him busy.
“I’ve been working in both locations, getting to know how [UMW] works while transitioning my [former] patients out,” he said.
Riley, who has spent the past 23 years working at a private family practice outside of Richmond, will join the University staff full-time this Monday.
The Health Center’s administration is not the only change.  Due to the construction on Lee Hall, the Health Center and Psychological Services (recently renamed Counseling and Psychological Services, or CAPS) have both moved into the first and third floors of Mercer Hall, a former residence hall. Construction has also displaced Financial Aid, Student Affairs, Admissions, and the University Bookstore into temporary locations for the next two years.
Barbara J. Wagar, vice president of student affairs and director of CAPS, explains how busy Mercer Hall is while these new changes are implemented.
“So much has been going on with getting the new director on board and moving into Mercer,” Wagar said. “The appointment times are always filled.”
Though he has been on staff part-time since Jan. 8, Riley looks forward to beginning full-time next week.
“I’ll have more time to work on projects,” Riley said.
Riley is already in the midst of his work, coordinating, for example, a project with the Athletic Department to redesign its required student health records, but he is specifically planning a schedule that will make himself more available to students.
“I would like to make time for anybody who wants to just come in and talk, even without an appointment,” Riley said.
Not only do most students not realize that Overman will retire, or that Riley is succeeding her responsibilities, many realize their frustrations about the facility’s availability. Currently, the hours are set up like a typical 40-hour work week; the Center is closed on nights and weekends.
Student concerns about the Health Center hours motivated senior Mary Burrelli write on the issue for an assignment in class. She also decided to submit her editorial to The Bullet.
“I thought it was an important issue,” Burrelli said.
Printed in last week’s issue of The Bullet, the editorial addresses some student concerns, such as poor doctor availability and the need to modify its schedule to more night and weekend hours.
UMW junior Sarah Herzog, who was quoted by Burrelli last week, is still interested in revising the Center’s service hours.
“I still think it is ridiculous that [the Health Center] is not open on the weekends,” Herzog said.
Wagar believes Dr. Riley understands their concerns, as well as the issues more often asserted in a college specific atmosphere.
“He’s had a great deal of experience in primary care,” Wagar said. “He had done his homework.”
After completing his homework-and  in the process completing a B.S. at UVA, a doctorate at the Medical College in Virginia, and family care board certification in 1977- Riley has spent a lot of time developing his career experience. Prior to working in the Richmond area, Riley worked as a physician for the Williamsburg Community Hospital and the Johnston Willis Hospital, and as a part time director at PP & D Plant of E.I. DuPont de Nemours, Inc.
Wagar was enthusiastic about Riley’s knowledge on the health care specific to University.
“We are aware of the educational component to what we do,” Wagar said.  “Riley understands the issues and changes that are involved with health services in a University.”
So far, the financial setbacks involved with increasing costs for worked overtime have prevented any further suggestion in implementing a change to the Health Services operating hours.