"Frank was a forthright, inquisitive, caring consultant, mentor and was one of my favorite humans...
We worked together for fifteen years jointly running consulting skills workshops every Winter and Summer Session, and invariably he would challenge and console our participants to do the best consulting that the situation allowed. Old fashioned problem solving and challenging his clients and their counselors/coaches was his marker, and he did it with warmth and sensitivity. I miss Frank - he was one of a kind and to me, the penultimate scholar/practitioner."
-Don Bushnell, PhD, Faculty Emeritus and Founding Dean and of the School of Human and Organizational Development, Fielding Graduate University
Frank Friedlander passed away on October 1, 2015 after a brief and relatively painless illness. He felt that he had had a long and rich life, and was quite accepting that it was about to end. He was 88 years old.
Frank was born in South Orange, New Jersey on September 22, 1927. He was always interested in people and why they did what they did. He graduated from Cornell University with a bachelor's degree in psychology in 1950 and went on to earn an MBA from the University of Texas in 1956. Frank then moved to Cleveland, Ohio, and went to Western Reserve University and earned his PhD in social and organizational psychology in 1962.
In 1954 he married Janet Mongan and they raised three children: Todd, Clare and Paul. The marriage ended in 1977. In 1996, he married Margaret Waters, who was his partner for the remainder of his life.
After leaving Western Reserve University with his PhD, Frank began his organization development career. In 1962 the family moved to China Lake, California where he worked at the Naval Ordnance Test Center. While there, he did research on how effective teams worked together.
In the fall of 1966, Frank and his family moved back to Cleveland, Ohio where he joined the faculty of the newly begun Organizational Behavior PhD program at Case Institute of Technology. It was the first program of its kind in the world. For the next 15 years, he taught, consulted, wrote and worked with students on their PhD dissertations. The organizational behavior program was unique at the time in that the students and faculty were considered colleagues - there was not hierarchy of faculty having all of the answers and students being in a constant learning mode - they were all equal colleagues in a rich learning environment. Frank fit in very well in this role because of his values around respect, encouragement, and striving for colleagueship with his fellow faculty and the students with whom he came in contact. He "walked the talk" and was a profound role model for many in the University and his clients.
In 1981, Frank left what is now Case Western Reserve University (the two universities joined in 1968) to join the faculty at the Fielding Graduate University in Santa Barbara, California, where he continued his work as an outstanding faculty member working with students from around the world. During his tenure at Fielding, Frank conducted frequent seminars on organizational development, and consulted in collaboration with Fielding doctoral students who served as "shadow consultants" with nonprofit organizations throughout the U.S. In 2005, Frank and Don Bushnell, PhD, the founding dean of the School of Organization Development, founded the Center for Study of Nonprofit Organizations which became the Institute for Social Innovation at Fielding. Throughout his twenty-five years as senior faculty, he guided the doctoral research initiatives and mentored thirty-five candidates for advanced study at Fielding.
During his teaching career, Frank also was an active member of the Organizational Development Network and was a frequent presenter at their annual conventions. He was also a member of the National Training Laboratories where he led groups of individuals to help them identify their strengths and areas of development as leaders and human beings.
In his later years, Frank was an active member of the Humanist Community and a founding member of the Ethical Culture Society of Silicon Valley in 2006, where he offered valuable organizational support. He led workshops and seminars, led board retreats, and mentored other founders. He was passionate about bringing "heart" into Humanism, which he felt tends towards the "heady." He often talked and wrote in the last few years about how technology made us less connected instead of more connected, and how the loss of human contact in communication left the feelings out of our relationships, which he considered a big loss. Frank always valued and encouraged real and significant interactions with those around him.
Frank made many intellectual and academic contributions over the course of a long and illustrious career. For many years he was a national leader in the study of organizations and in the field of Organization Development. Within HOD he helped develop the systems knowledge area and ran a long-standing and admired consulting skills workshop with founding dean Don Bushnell. His style was one of practical problem solving with a strong dose of challenge for his clients. He value planned agendas for meetings and workshops but successfully co-facilitated with those who had a more improvisational style. Frank was a master at simultaneously tending to content and group process. He was also a notably competitive tennis player.Frank’s Fielding colleagues speak of his many helpful contributions to their personal and professional development. While his wisdom was highly valued, he sometimes questioned the quality of his own work as well as sought help from others. For example, while he offered guidance for fellow faculty members on how to run a doctoral committee or faculty meeting, he also would ask for advice on how to give feedback on problematic student writing. He was a mentor who always sought improvement. Because of his many talents others sought his endorsement. To quote one colleague, “Do you remember the way he would say, ‘YES!!' when he agreed with you? I do."Frank was shy and introverted despite an often forthright and inquisitive style when in work role. A person of many facets, colleagues describe him as humble, gentle, kind, inclusive, and nourishing. He managed to overcome his shyness in several ways including performing at national sessions as one of the HOD Spandex Dancers (you would have to witness it to understand). Frank Friedlander is most fondly remembered and dearly missed.
Frank was one of those rare individuals, whether in conversation, over a meal, or in a formal seminar, left others mulling over a challenging idea and filled with the acknowledgement of having been heard. Over the years, I saw him push others--his students, colleagues, friends-- and me, to think more deeply, to pose more critical questions, and to reflect on our assumptions. Passionate about organization development and leadership, he advocated tirelessly for creating organizations that honor the development of the people who work within them. We miss him, but he is always with us at Fielding as he was committed to the way we think about learning and the way we work with our students.
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