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Profiles in generosity

Alan ’72 and Joan Henricks

San Francisco

October 25, 2022
Alan Henricks and his wife, Joan, on the beach
Charla Photography

“MIT was a very humbling experience for me,” says Alan Henricks, one of the first generation in his Midwestern family to attend college. “But at the end of four years, it also gave me self-confidence to go forward in the world.”

Doc Edgerton’s legacy. Alan, who went on to a successful career of leadership roles at several technology companies, and his wife, Joan, enthusiastically support the MIT Edgerton Center, founded in 1992 to honor the late Harold “Doc” Edgerton, SM ’27, ScD ’31, the inventor, entrepreneur, and beloved MIT professor. When Alan was an undergraduate campus tour guide, his favorite stop was Edgerton’s Strobe Lab, where he often encountered the supposedly retired professor assisting undergraduates with projects. The Edgerton Center, Alan says, combines mens and manus, providing a valuable maker space for students. 

Joan Henricks, who holds a doctorate in behavioral sciences and served many years as a docent for visiting schoolchildren at a San Francisco art museum, praises the center’s outreach to local schools. “I had always believed in informal learning,” she says, “but I became deeply interested in seeing this kind of learning in action.” 

Thoughtful giving. In addition to making a bequest to MIT in their will, the couple established the Edgerton Center Director’s Fund, to which others can also contribute. Today’s students, the Henrickses point out, will soon be the next generation of alumni at MIT. For those who find that the Edgerton Center helped launch their careers, says Alan, “they’ll have a way to give back through this endowed fund.” 

Help MIT build a better world. For more information, contact Amy Goldman: (617)253-4082; Or visit

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