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CLAYTON P. ALDERFER

Born: September 1, 1940
Died: October 30, 2015

Clayton Alderfer was born in Sellersville, Pennsylvania, son of Joseph Paul and Ruth Althea Buck Alderfer. He prepared for Yale at Liberty High School, Bethlehem, PA where he met his high school sweetheart, Charleen Frankenfield, whom he married in July, 1962, following graduation.

At Yale, Clay spent a very active three years in Pierson. He was college council chairman, sports editor of The Sun, and a member of the touch football, crew, swimming, volleyball and basketball teams. He was a member of Tau Beta Pi, the Board of Deacons, the Class Council and an Alumni Fund Agent. Clay earned his B.S. with High Honors, was on Dean's List and was a ranking scholar.

Clay received his Ph.D. from Yale in 1966 and then embarked on his long and distinguished academic career in organizational psychology, beginning as Assistant Professor in Cornell's Graduate School of Business and Public Administration from 1966 to 1968.

Starting in 1968 Clay spent the next 24 years on the faculty of Yale's Department of Administrative Sciences, which in 1976 became the School of Organization and Management. Beginning as Assistant Professor, he became a full Professor and served as Director of Professional Studies, Director of Advanced Management Studies, Associate Dean and ultimately Director of Graduate Studies for Organizational Behavior of the Graduate School.

Clay developed a special program of research and consultation on group dynamics in boards of directors and developed and taught a variety of innovative organizational behavior course for management and doctoral students. However, as Clay wrote in our 50th Reunion Book, he became dissatisfied with the change in focus and philosophy of SOM under Dean Michael Levine in the late 1980s. Levine ended the organizational behavior doctoral program and set into motion forces that eventually changed the degree from Master of Public and Private Management to an MBA. "The transformation of SOM into a traditional business school was a major disappointment in my career," Clay wrote.

He resigned from Yale in 1992 and joined the faculty at Rutgers. In addition to his professorship, he was Director of the Organizational Psychology Program for 12 of the 14 years he taught there.

Clayton retired from Rutgers in 2006 and turned his focus to writing. He published over the years more than 85 articles in academic and professional journals, as well as his major book, The Practice of Organizational Diagnosis (Oxford University Press, 2011). "From both personal and substantive points of view, writing the book brought to fruition concepts and methods that I had worked on for my entire career," he explained.

During his career in professional psychology, Clay participated in long term research and consultation on racial relationships among managers in large organizations, the results of which were reported in a number of his publications. He also was the recipient of many research grants and contracts, including three from the U.S. Office of Naval Research over a ten-year period, and a five-year study of corporate governance for one of the major national accounting firms.

He was a diplomate of the American Board of Professional Psychology, fellow of the American Psychological Associates, fellow of the Society for Applied Anthropology, editor of the Journal of Applied Behavior Science for 13 years and on the editorial board of Family Business Review for 17 years. Clay was also a visiting professor and lecturer at Universities as varied as Michigan, University of Monterrey, Mexico, California-Berkeley Museum Management Institute and George Washington.

In his bio for our 50th Reunion Clay made clear that, although retired from Rutgers, he was still actively engaged in the professional work he loved:

By conventional standards, I am "retired," because I am no longer employed by a large organization. I do occasional teaching and consulting, although my primary activity is writing. To twist a saying, I had to perish academically in order to publish longer books.

Clay and Charleen were married 53 years at the time of his death. She began her career in nursing, earning her B.S. from University of Bridgeport in 1966, and then obtained her doctorate in family therapy from the University of Massachusetts in 1991. She was an Associate Professor and Director of Family Therapy Program at the College of New Jersey and is now retired. Clay and Charleen often worked together as a consulting team for family businesses.

Clay and Charleen had two children -- Kate Candela, a riding instructor, coach and horse trainer who lives in Maynard, Mass., with her husband, Michael, and Benjamin, a pharmaceutical representative who lives in Keene, New Hampshire, with his wife, Sara. Clay is survived by 5 grandchildren: Madelyn Candela, Abigail Candela, Claire Candela, Olivia Alderfer and Myles Alderfer. Clay wrote in 2002 that a "great delight has been enjoying my children as they reached full-fledged adulthood. We have found a whole new order of joy in becoming grandparents."

Classmates David Alden and Steve Howard both roomed with Clay. They both graciously provided assistance with this obituary. Alden recalls two summers working with Clay as a counselor in a summer camp on the Delaware River in New York State.

Steve delivered a eulogy at Clay's funeral service in Bethlehem, his hometown:

I met Clay Alderfer in the fall of 1958, nearly 60 years ago, when we were both freshmen at Yale. Clay had a glint in his eye and an infectious smile. He wore a kind of squished pork-pie hat that looked like somebody had sat on it, and he was smart as hell. We spent a lot of time together. In the spring we decided to room together, and we stayed roommates over the next three years.

On the eve of our graduation, sadly, my girlfriend, Barbara, died in a car accident - and Clay had the unenviable task of telling me. Clay came and found me and broke the news and stayed with me a long time. I left Yale the next day, thinking I would not return. But Clay called me after Barbara's funeral and persuaded me to come back, not an easy call to make. I don't know how I could have gotten through that period of my life without Clay.

Clay Alderfer was obviously a great intellect. But he was also the kindest, gentlest, most considerate person I've ever known. Clay is my hero, and I'm lucky to have known him.




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