Today's Featured Biography
P.S. 156, J.H.S. 263, TJHS '61
ECA: President 3-RR, Student Patrol (2 terms), Arista
Recipient of Attendance and Punctuality Citation - Perfect Record
I was born June 8, 1944 in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, New York. In the 1940s and '50s, Brooklyn was a borough of a quite diverse population, of all religions, ethnic groups, cultures, and values. Mentioning the section is important since early childhood experiences predict later behaviors, attitudes, and values. I believe that much of my early experiences, both in the streets of Brooklyn and at home shaped my interests and values. This autobiography attempts to demonstrate the belief.
I was the second son of Judith and Hyman Zedeck. My father came to the U.S. from Poland in the late 1920s. He left his girlfriend, Judith, to seek a better life for himself and his future bride. After working for five years at several laborer type jobs, such as painting Navy ships, he became a citizen of the U.S., then went back to Poland to marry Judith, and shortly thereafter return with her to this country.
When I was born, my mother and father were running a "Mom and Pop" type of neighborhood grocery store in Brownsville. For about the first 15 years of my life we lived in a two-bedroom, four-story (without an elevator) apartment building; we then moved to another dwelling in the same neighborhood, an apartment in a three-story building that included a commercial operation on the lower level.
Since my parents were working from about 6 AM to 8 PM in the store, I spent almost all my non-school time playing ball in the streets. We played the typical New York City games such as stick ball, punch ball, stoop ball, "fence" basketball (where we tried to score points by throwing a "spaldeen" rubber ball between a fence and the gate that was pushed back against the fence - the rules and the very small opening to shoot at did not permit dunking). When we weren't playing ball, we involved ourselves in games like "Johnny-on-the-pony" and other such team-oriented events.
The point of this is that I was very much on my own, going home only to have meals, do my homework, and to sleep. Otherwise, I was with a group of kids, occupying ourselves in group activities. We made up the rules, we lived by them, and we got along. We did not need referees or umpires or counselors to mediate disputes or encourage us to keep busy. This world was quite different from the one that my children were raised in. The other point is that we all got along - people from different backgrounds and cultures - and everything seemed to be fair.
When I did see my parents, it was usually at their store where I ate my meals. But that's also where I learned about the value of education and a work ethic. My parents were always concerned about my preoccupation with sports and were constantly stressing the value of education. Neither of my parents had much formal education beyond high school in Poland, and they firmly believed that my brother, Morris, and I had to go to college. My father had hoped that he himself could have gone to pharmacy school, but the economics of his family situation did not permit it. So, he and my mother constantly stressed that my brother and I would have a college education and that they were prepared to make all the necessary sacrifices to see that come true.
And they certainly did make sacrifices. They worked all day long, six days a week. They worked without other help except when my brother and I were old enough to help out. One of my earliest recollections is when I was about 10 years old, had worked in the store during a holiday season, and my father gave me $5.00 for my efforts so that I could buy my first baseball glove.
My early education was at P.S. 156 and Junior High School 263; these were neighborhood schools to which I could walk. I was not involved much in school activities, since there were none to speak of; basically when the bell rang we ran outside to the concrete playground and began playing our games.
When I was about 11 years old, I began my "work career"; I helped out in my relatives' hardware and housewares store. This meant that I had to learn to juggle my school and recreational activities to fit working, but it also taught me how to juggle schedules - which for me has been operationalized by making certain that there be no or minimal free time in a schedule.
After several years working in the store and then moving on to high school (Thomas Jefferson High School), to which I had to take a bus or subway, I found other jobs that lasted for considerable periods of time. For one year, I replaced my brother in his job as a stock and counter person in a pharmacy. Then, for most of my high school career, I delivered meat for a butcher by bicycle to the customers. The bike was used in all seasons - rain, snow, or shine.
None of the jobs that I held while going to school could be considered intrinsically interesting, but they did demonstrate to me that hard work had some rewards. The money that I earned contributed to my spending money as well as a savings for my education or some other highly valued object (I used my savings to buy a car when I was a senior in college).
Since I had to be at work immediately after my high school classes, I had no time to get involved with high school sports. That is one of my regrets, since I would have liked to have played baseball or football (the latter seemed like a good possibility since the coach was my friend's brother).
While working and playing through my teen-age years, I did enjoy school - particularly mathematics, history, and political science. The emphasis in my home was that I should be a "doctor" (doctor is in quotes since my parents knew "doctor" as basically a medical doctor). The pressure increased when my brother pursued a pharmacy degree, and then, before ever practicing, went off to the University of Michigan to obtain a Ph.D. in pharmacology.
In 1961 I entered the only school that was a realistic choice for me, Brooklyn College, to pursue a pre-med undergraduate degree. The choice was limited to Brooklyn College for several reasons. First, there was the cost. When I started, the fees were $8.00 per semester (when I graduated, they were $32.00 per semester and my father was quite disturbed by this 400% increase). Second, I had never really been away from home when I applied, and I wasn't prepared to leave then; rather, I thought commuter life would be acceptable.
My entire teen-age life was spent in Brooklyn, with occasional visits to Manhattan to go to the museums or to the Bronx to see the New York Yankees play. Most summers, for two weeks, my family and I would go to the Catskill Mountains in up-state New York (and we passed through New Jersey to do so), but it wasn't until I graduated from high school and visited my brother and his family in Ann Arbor did I leave New York.
Third, in the 1950s and 1960s, Brooklyn College was the college to attend since it had an excellent reputation, and it had produced (as part of the City University of New York system) more Ph.Ds and physicians than any other educational system in the country.
The summer of 1961, when I was 17, and before I was to begin Brooklyn College, I quit my job as meat deliverer and took the big step to go away from home and work in the Catskill Mountains at a bungalow colony as a "soda jerk" and short order cook. I had no experience at either of these, but it gave me an opportunity to earn an anticipated great deal of money (basically on tips since salary was replaced by room and board in the healthy climate of up-state New York). I also thought the job would give me the opportunity to experience life away from home, be in the outdoors, and a have a chance to play softball on a dirt field rather than the concrete playgrounds in Brooklyn. Not much of the latter desires actually materialized since I worked from 10 AM to 10 PM five days a week, from 10 AM to midnight the sixth day, and on the seventh day off (Tuesdays), was involved in individual recreation since all my contemporaries (counselors and life guards) worked at their jobs.
In spite of the hours, I didn't mind the job. I liked keeping busy and the nature of the job allowed me to meet and talk with a lot of people (who were from different sections of New York). In some ways, I was like a bartender - people would come in for an "egg cream" (which only New Yorkers know the secret of) and spend time talking, and talking, and talking while I listened. One might get the impression that this would cause me to become a clinical psychologist.
After the summer, and prior to beginning classes at Brooklyn College (a place I had not been to prior to my first day on campus), I visited my brother at the University of Michigan. This visit impressed me since there were so many buildings, wide open spaces, and a community sense that I had not seen or experienced before. So, it was a surprise when on my first day at Brooklyn College, I found only two classroom buildings, an administration building, a gym, and a field to accommodate about 30,000 students who were going to college during the day and night.
At the outset, I did what my parents expected and began as a pre-med major. I enrolled in calculus, organic chemistry, anatomy, and other courses that would make me the next "Ben Casey." Initially, all was going along well grade-wise, though I was not fulfilling my interests. It seemed that I was going to school for the sake of school. (While going to college, I worked as a cashier in a supermarket.)
Several events occurred, however, that changed my focus and life. First, in my second year of college, I joined a "house plan," which is a poor person's fraternity. This gave me the opportunity to meet a group of guys who have turned out to be lifelong friends. But, now being in an "organized" group that was involved in social and athletic events, I had the opportunity to spend time socializing (usually in the school cafeteria) and playing ball (finally, in an organization where they had official referees and umpires).
Second, grades and interest in the courses I was taking diminished (I don't know which is the cause or the effect) such that I began to question whether I wanted to be a doctor (or continue education beyond the bachelor's degree). As I was questioning my direction, I frequently observed and listened to some friends while they were meeting to discuss their psychological statistics homework problems and their experimental psychology projects. These sounded interesting. At the completion of the Fall semester of my junior year, I and some of these psychology major friends decided to go to Miami, Florida for Winter break, and this turned out to be a third significant event.
This was going to be my second trip out of Brooklyn and what better way to do it then to take a Greyhound bus. It was an enlightening experience. It was just after my political hero, John Kennedy was assassinated, and there was more and more awakening with respect to civil rights. While on the bus trip through the South I could not believe the discrimination that existed - as an example, separate facilities for Blacks and Whites. The unfairness that I was beginning to read about was then blatantly before me. Given my prior experiences in Brownsville, the community in which I lived and interacted with, I found the conditions difficult to understand as well as to accept.
A fourth event that redirected my energies took place while I was in Miami - I called home to check on my grade in Physics (a course which gave me absolutely no pleasure). When my father informed me that it was less than a "C," the disappointment in his voice and my realization that medical school may be out of the picture caused me to re-think my major. So, I returned for the Spring Semester and began taking all of the psychology courses I could, which at Brooklyn College, were basically experimental, social, and abnormal psychologies. The ones that I enjoyed most were experimental and statistics.
Pursuing the new major was not easy for my parents to understand or accept. The most they knew about psychology was what they knew about Sigmund Freud. Nevertheless, when they learned that I planned to go to graduate school, with the possibility that I would pursue a doctorate, they were pleased, since I would be "some kind of doctor;" they were more accepting of the notion that there were other kinds of doctors since my brother was at that time earning his Ph.D. in pharmacology.
There are two other events that shaped my life prior to entry into graduate school. First, in my sophomore year when I was involved in a social event, I met a first-year student, Marti Rosen. Though we dated once that year not much evolved out of the relationship until my senior year, when we began seeing each other more frequently. But, I was planning to go off to graduate school and she still had another year at Brooklyn College, so the relationship was put on hold.
Second, during my senior year (1964-65), the Vietnam War was escalating and there was great concern that my classmates and I would be drafted. In those days, you could delay your obligation if you volunteered for the National Guard or continued in school. The latter contingency reinforced my interest in going to graduate school.
The major decision that I faced was which graduate program in psychology to pursue. My assessment was that I was most interested in experimental aspects of psychology, in areas that involved statistical reasoning, and in problems that were encountered in worklife. I wasn't interested in clinical psychology, or in studying at a micro level short-term or long-term memory; rather I was interested in why and how people dealt with the activities in which they were most involved, work. And so I pursued the interest and learned that Industrial Psychology fit the bill. Unfortunately, there was no course in industrial psychology at Brooklyn College, but I did look at some texts that were in the library and found that given my "extensive" work history, I could relate to the issues presented in these books - job satisfaction, motivation, and selection.
The choice as to which particular university to apply to was relatively easy. I decided that I wanted to leave New York, and that given my very brief experience in visiting Ann Arbor, the Midwest would be a nice place. Also, I could not apply to too many places, since that would result in significant application expenditures. So I did some more "research" and determined that Ohio State, Bowling Green State University (BGSU), and Case Western Reserve were the places to apply. It was not intentional that I applied to three universities all located in Ohio; perhaps I am like others who believe that every state west of New York is the West and that Ohio was the Midwest. The decision regarding which of these universities to enter was even easier - I was accepted by Bowling Green, rejected by Ohio State, and never heard from Case Western Reserve. And so, in Fall 1965, I went off to Bowling Green to see what life had in store for me.
The above biographical sketch was written in the late 1980’s. The following is a short synopsis of events that have occurred since then, leading up to the present (February 2015).
Regarding the professional side, after graduating with a Ph.D. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology in 1969 from Bowling Green State University, I went to the Department of Psychology at the University of California at Berkeley (UCB) as at first a lecturer and then one year later as an assistant professor. I remained there until I retired in December 2010 as a Full Professor as well as Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Faculty Welfare. Other administrative posts that I held at UCB are as Chair of the Department of Psychology from 1993-98 (and as interim chair for the 2003-04 year) and as the Director of the campus' Institute of Industrial Relations from 1988-92.
During the course of my research and teaching career, I co-authored four books on various topics: (1) Foundations of Behavioral Science Research in Organizations (1974, with Milton Blood), (2) Measurement Theory for the Behavioral Sciences (1981, with Edwin E. Ghiselli and John Campbell), (3) Performance Measurement and Theory (1983, with Frank Landy and Jan Cleveland), and (4) Data Analysis for Research Designs (1989, with Geoffrey Keppel). In addition, I edited a volume entitled Work, Family, and Organizations (1992), which is part of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) Frontiers Series.
I conducted research and published journal articles on the topics of selection and validation, test fairness, high-stakes testing, strategies for reducing adverse impact against minorities in test systems, performance appraisal, assessment centers, stress, and work and family issues.
With regard to professional service, I served on the editorial boards of Journal of Applied Psychology, Contemporary Psychology, American Psychologist, and Industrial Relations. I also served as Editor of Journal of Applied Psychology as well as Editor and Associate Editor of Human Performance, a journal that I and my friend and colleague, Frank Landy, founded in 1988. I have been Associate Editor of Applied Psychology: An International Review. Currently, though retired from UCB, I still serve on the Editorial Advisory Board of Management and Organization Review and on the Senior Advisory Board for the Journal of Business and Psychology and provide reviews of papers submitted to the International Journal of Selection and Assessment.
In addition, I was the editor of a research series of books that addresses People and Organizations, published by Routledge (1986-95) and the Frontiers Series Editor, sponsored by SIOP, from 1993-98. Also, I was the editor of the Industrial/Organizational Psychology section for the Encyclopedia of Applied Psychology (published by Elsevier in 2004). Finally, I am the editor-in-chief for the 3-volume American Psychological Association (APA) Handbook of Industrial and Organizational Psychology (2010), as well as being chief-editor of APA’s Dictionary of Statistics and Research Methods (2014).
I was also quite active in my major professional association, the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (Division 14 of the American Psychological Association [APA]). I have been on the Society's Educational and Training Committee; its Workshop Committee; a Member-at-Large; editor of the Society's newsletter, TIP; served on two ad hoc committees concerned with revising the Society's "Principles for the Validation and Use of Personnel Selection Procedures;" represented the Society on the APA Council of Representatives; and in 1986-87 was the President of the Society. For other associations, I served on the APA Board of Scientific Affairs as well as on the executive committees for the Academy of Management's Personnel/Human Resources Division and for the Society for Organizational Behavior.
For 40+ years, I was also quite active in consulting with private and public sector organizations. I contributed to the development of selection and promotion systems for private and public organizations, for jobs from entry level through senior management, with a focus on systems that are fair and provide for a diverse workforce. I have also been an expert witness representing plaintiffs, organizations, and as part of consent decree teams, in employment discrimination cases.
My last major research project (started in 1998 and still being discussed) was conducted with Prof. Marjorie M. Shultz (Boalt School of Law), which is concerned with the identification of factors and criteria of lawyering success and the development and validation of tests that can be used as complements to the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) for admitting students to law schools. This research was recognized (May 2011) by receipt of the Smashing Bias Research Prize, awarded by the Level Playing Field Institute.
During my career, I have received a number of awards, including The Berkeley Citation, which was awarded upon my retirement for rendering distinguished service to the University. It is awarded to “faculty and administrators whose attainments significantly exceed the standards of excellence in their fields and whose contributions to UC Berkeley are manifestly above and beyond the call of duty.” Other awards include the Bowling Green State University Centennial Award; 100 Distinguished Alumni ( 2010); the Division III Award for Distinction in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, California Psychological Association (2007); Distinguished Service Award, Academic Senate, University of California at Berkeley Campus (2006) and the SIOP Distinguished Service Award (1997).
Finally, I was recognized with the “Israel Organizational Behavior Conference 2011 Life-Time Achievement Award;” also, upon my retirement in December 2010, a donation from individuals in China created the “Sheldon Zedeck Program for Culture, Behavior and Management Study at UC Berkeley.”
On the personal side, I married Marti Zedeck in 1966 and we raised three children – Cindy (health educator; husband Jason is an educator), Jason (lawyer; wife Stacey is a nurse), and Tracy (pilot). We also have 5 grandchildren – Molly, Ella, Lilly, Aidan, and Noah. Though we were based in Berkeley since 1969, we have had the opportunity to travel the world (been to all 7 continents) and to live for extended periods of time in Israel, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Beijing, Sydney, and Hong Kong.
All in all, a fulfilling and wonderful life for this kid from Brownsville!!
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