Transitional Housing -- Director Off to Help War Victims
By Jody Record, Campus Journal Editor
October 31, 2007
For the past several years, Director of Housing William Conk has had two loves:
UNH and the international humanitarian aid group Doctors Without Borders.
In 1994, he took a seven-month leave of absence and volunteered in warring
Bosnia, serving as a logistical officer and delivering medical supplies to
hospitals on the front lines and to clinics throughout the country.
Now, he’s off to help in other war-torn countries around the world.
Conk, who was elected vice-president of the U.S. Doctors Without Borders in
2006, has surrendered his director job here and is taking a yearlong sabbatical
to work with the group full time. At the end of that year, he will explore
new opportunities at UNH.
For the next year, Conk, who came to UNH in 1977, will be providing medical
care to people who are suffering the conflicts of war and those whose access
to health care is drastically limited.
Kathy Irla-Chesney, who had been the associate director of housing, is serving
as the interim director of housing. Irla-Chesney has worked in the housing
office since 1981.
In an interview last year after he was named vice president of the U.S. chapter,
Conk said, “I really like UNH; I really like the work I do here. The
two worlds are central to my life but they don’t mix.”
Doctors without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières has sections
in 19 countries with five operational divisions: France, Belgium, Holland,
Switzerland and Spain. During the 1990s, the decision was made to form an association
made up of current or former field staff and elect a board of directors from
the association. The board has four officer positions.