The Last 50 Years: " Short " Bios

Clayton P. Alderfer

Camp Miller:
Camper (1950-1955): Jr. 5 (Davis), 19 (Hillegas), 25 (Salmon); Sr. 3 (Kresge), Pioneer Unit (Koons, Rice);
Staff (1956-1960): Jr. 5; Senior (x); Pioneer Unit (2 years); Assistant Director.

Liberty High School, Bethlehem, PA: 1958,
Yale: B.S. 1962, Ph.D. 1966.

Married Charleen Frankenfield Alderfer 1962; children: Kate—born 1969; Benjamin—born 1972, both adopted. Each married with children: Kate and Mike Candela (3 girls); Ben and Sara Alderfer (1 girl and 1 boy).

Faculty positions at Cornell (1966-68); Yale (1968-1992); Rutgers (1992-2006), and consultant to public, private, and not-for-profit sector organizations.

Administrative Roles:
Director of Professional Studies, Yale School of Organization & Management; Director of the Doctoral Program in Organizational Psychology, Rutgers Graduate School of Professional Psychology.

Human Needs in Organizational Settings (1972); with L. David Brown, Learning from Changing (1975); The Practice of Organizational Diagnosis (2011), plus multiple journal articles and book chapters. Editor, Journal of Applied Behavioral Science (1990-2003).

Major Developmental Experiences associated with Camp Miller:
1953. The event was facing my fears and learning to swim. At age nearly 13, I could not swim and was embarrassed by that fact. During that summer I was at camp for eight weeks and with much effort managed to pass the Red Cross Intermediate Swimming test. I consider doing this probably the single most important decision I made as a young person. The key issue was facing and working through my fears. In the years following that summer, I became a very good swimmer and to this day swim regularly for exercise in the late spring, summer, and early fall. Learning to swim well was an important step. Choosing to wade into (rather than flee from) difficult emotions was crucial to every facet of my subsequent life.
1955. The event was the flood. As a 14-year-old, I witnessed the chaos that enveloped Camp as some staff responded competently and heroically and others were not up to the challenges. On realizing what was occurring, I took the hands of two younger campers, walked through the field between Camp and the road, climbed the hill at the entrance to Camp, and with others followed the road north to Camp Ministerium, where I and others lived for a week in the clothes we were wearing on flood day. During the stay at Ministerium, I was impressed by the generosity of some and the self-serving actions of others. Living through the range human behavior evoked by the flood was a major maturing experience for me.
1960. The episode was making a major error while Assistant Director. A counselor from the senior area became upset and left his cabin assignment, while Ernie was away and I was acting director. On learning what occurred, I became enraged and yelled at the fellow, which of course did no good. It was a serious mistake, and I was aided in working through my feelings by John Adams, a good friend, who was office manager at the time. The pain of realizing the mistake has stayed with me through life, during which I have had a number of academic administrative jobs, and throughout parenthood. Both situations regularly posed significant emotional challenges. Having made the mistake at Camp in the summer of 1960, I became quite good at dealing with the emotions set off by crises and managing interpersonal conflict.

I believe that the opportunity to be a camper and staff member at Camp Miller provided me with significant developmental opportunities during childhood and adolescence. At 70, I feel extremely fortunate for the family, friendship, scholarship, and professional events I have lived through and benefited from. There is no doubt in my mind that events at Camp, when I was between 9 and 19 years old, shaped in important ways how I navigated adulthood. To take one example: the behavior and attitudes of the senior area counselor who left his cabin assignment had much in common psychologically with that of faculty during the times of academic-organizational change with which I was actively involved. What I learned about myself from the 1960 event helped greatly during subsequent administrative challenges.

Clayton Alderfer
Head of Pioneer Unit, AD


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