May 16, 2012

When Harold Conger finished his engineering degree at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he was eager to see the world. Through the U.S. Agency for International Development, he traveled to Guatemala City, where he helped build Roosevelt Hospital, the country’s largest public medical facility.

Perhaps it was there he began to think about the importance of water and sanitation and other public health issues. He obtained a Master of Public Health degree in health policy and administration from UNC in 1958. After the degree, Conger quickly utilized his new skills when USAID assigned him to Quito, Ecuador, as director of health services for the U.S. Operations Mission. His responsibilities included evaluating water supplies and improving existing water systems.

In 1971, Conger retired after 35 years of government service. In 2003, at age 93, he returned to Guatemala to work on a Habitat for Humanity project.

When Mr. Conger died in October 2011, he left a gift of $50,000 to UNC’s public health school for a “Class of 1958 Fund.” The fund will be used to establish the Class of 1958 Scholarship, which will be awarded annually. Other members of the class are invited to participate.

“Harold deeply appreciated the education he received at The University of North Carolina,” says his son-in-law, Elwood (“Woody”) Hughes, “and he spoke fondly of his time in Chapel Hill.”

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