Alumnus Profile | Harold Henke, Ph.D.

“Even though I considered myself rather poor, I considered myself fortunate,” says the NSU College of Engineering and Computing alumnus who used a grant, work study, and later tuition reimbursement opportunities to earn three degrees free of debt. Harold Henke, Ph.D. admits, however, that today’s student would have to find eight times the amount of financial sources he had to procure. That is one reason he funds scholarships, including an endowed scholarship named in honor of one of his NSU professors.


Henke established the Dr. Laurie Dringus Endowed Scholarship Fund to honor his professor and dissertation chair, Dr. Laurie Dringus.  The first recipient of the scholarship was awarded in the 2016-2017 academic year.

The idea to name an endowed scholarship came when he read about the opportunity in NSU’s Horizons magazine.

“I saw the blurb about how you can endow a scholarship and name it for professors that you admired.  I thought about the great dissertation committee I had, and said ‘Wow!’ I had access to really top-notch people, and they're still very successful.”

Henke decided to specifically honor his advisor, Dr. Dringus, who was “always very thorough and made me think about where I could find sources of info outside the simplest path.”  She didn't immediately agree to serve as his advisor; she made him finesse his proposal several times first.

According to Henke, the extra effort was work it because Dringus provided valuable guidance in pursuing a topic that many people were skeptical about.  At the time, eBooks was an idea that had been tried, but failed.  In the late 1990s there was a push again to try to make eBooks an industry standard, and Henke’s research supported that (enhanced effort).   “Dr. Dringus was willing to work with me on my dissertation about a budding industry that had already failed once but was gaining new momentum.”

Henke’s dissertation, “A Study in the Use of Paper Book Metaphors in the Design of Electronic Books,” was published at the dawn of the modern eBook. Since then, Henke has published several other books on the industry.

“The reality is that I benefited greatly from my NSU education and I think it’s fair that I help others get that same opportunity.  And the process of establishing the scholarship was so easy!”    

 “I have a foster daughter, and I am always telling her that education is as much about the process as it is learning outcomes. The process is what prepares you for the world,” Henke added.

Henke has been in the information technology industry working for companies such as Brocade, IBM, and Oracle for over 30 years, specializing in information design and reuse. He is currently the principal consultant and owner of Flatirons Technical Communications, LLC, which was launched in 2004. Flatirons Technical Communications specializes in helping customers create structured, reusable information for technical documentation and training based on the DITA standard.