James T. Albrecht ’08, a Baker House resident known for his contributions to academic and student life and MIT, died on July 22 from injuries sustained in a fall.
Albrecht, 21, appears to have fallen from the roof of a New York City five-story apartment building and landed on a second-story ledge of an adjacent building, according to a New York Police Department spokesman.
A memorial service for Albrecht will be held today at 3 p.m. in the MIT Chapel. All MIT community members are invited.
“James Albrecht’s most charming and memorable quality was his overwhelming generosity,” said Sarah C. Proehl ’09, a former Baker House resident and friend of Albrecht’s. Proehl said that Albrecht was one of the first to volunteer in a tutoring program started last year by the Baker House graduate resident tutors. “Even if it was 2 a.m., and he had myriad problem sets to do, he would gladly put down his work to help any student knocking on his door.”
Proehl said that her fondest memory of Albrecht’s kindness was Family Weekend of her freshman year.
“My 10-year-old brother and cousin were bored to tears as a result of that weekend’s horrible rain,” Proehl recalled. “James spent several hours of his Sunday giving the boys a skateboarding tour of the underground ramps. My brother has never stopped talking about how much fun he had with ‘that really cool genius.’”
Albert R. Ni ’09 described Albrecht as “a laid-back, easy going guy, always funny and enjoyable to be around.”
“He was someone who derived a lot of pleasure through helping others, something that I think speaks more truly to his character than any of his other virtues,” Ni said in an e-mail to Baker House. Ni was Albrecht’s roommate during Ni’s freshman year and this summer. “There is no question that the time I shared with him as a roommate and a friend was enjoyable and invaluable,” Ni said. “He was the first person to make me feel welcome at MIT.”
Albrecht’s mother, Marita, described him as “gentle but fun-loving and obviously smart.” “For a smart guy, he never limited his circles,” his mother said. “All through high school and when he was home from college, there were always people around the house.”
Albrecht was born in Chicago and grew up in Naperville, Ill. He attended Naperville North High School before coming to MIT.
At MIT, Albrecht was the president of Baker House and was elected as vice president of the Dormitory Council in May 2007. Albrecht was also a teaching assistant for the 2006 spring term’s Differential Equations (18.03) course, according to Albrecht’s academic advisor David A. Vogan, professor of mathematics.
A mathematics and physics major, Albrecht was “deeply interested in many things,” Vogan said. According to Vogan, Albrecht wanted to enter a masters’ program in computation for design and optimization.
“Most MIT undergraduates are essentially nice people; sometimes it just takes a little while to see that,” Vogan said in an e-mail. “With James, nice was all I ever saw from the moment I met him. He was cheerful, helpful, self-deprecating, and generally just a great pleasure to talk to. This applied whether we were talking about what classes he wanted to take, or about MIT administrative procedures tripping him up, or even about genuine problems. … I’ll certainly miss him.”
Over the summer, Albrecht was working in New York City as an intern at D.E. Shaw & Co., an investment and technology development firm.
Albrecht is survived by his parents Jay and Marita, his grandmother Bonny, and his brother John, all of Naperville, and a sister Maggie of Houston, Texas.