Concepts familiar from grade-school algebra have broad ramifications in computer science.
Clarence Henniger, recruited for the MIT Campus Police by Nobel prize-winning Institute Professor Emeritus Franco Modigliani, has been promoted to sergeant.
"Professor Modigliani has always been like a father figure to me," said Henniger, 48, who joined the department on June 24, 1974.
At that time, he had taken the examination for the Boston Police Department and was awaiting an appointment. Modigliani, whose wife is a longtime friend of Henniger's mother, suggested that Henniger apply to the MIT Police Department. He was hired a short time later.
"I'm still here," said Henniger, who turned down an invitation to join the Boston police two years later. "I'm proud to be part of the department."
During his 28 years as an MIT police officer, Henniger has been assigned to crime prevention and worked with the Project Interphase summer program for incoming freshmen from underrepresented minority groups. As a sergeant, he will be a patrol supervisor.
"Clarence projects a professional image as a police officer," said Lt. Daniel Costa, who joined the MIT Police in January after 28 years with the Massachusetts State Police. "He provides sound examples for officers to follow and learn from. Many community members bond with him and appreciate his strengths. He is the perfect professional example for this department's officers."
Henniger, who was born in Honduras and speaks Spanish fluently, earned spending money as a youth by doing yard work and odd jobs for the Modiglianis, who lived in Belmont in those days.
"When I needed help in math, their son Sergio tutored me," said Henniger, who was raised in Boston and graduated from Sharon High School.
Henniger glows when he recalls the day Modigliani won the Nobel Prize for economics in 1985. He was invited--and assigned--to the President's House for the celebration.
"Of course I was proud as a peacock," Henniger said. "I feel like I'm part of the family."
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on July 17, 2002.