Clayton O. Dohrenwend was born May 20, 1909 in New Britain, Connecticut. He received a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1931. While teaching at the Institute he received a master’s degree in civil engineering in 1935, and the master’s in physics in 1937.
In 1937, Dohrenwend left Rensselaer to take a position at the Armour Institute of Technology (now Illinois Institute of Technology) and subsequently was awarded a doctorate in mechanics from the University of Michigan. From 1939 to 1941 he taught civil engineering and mechanics at the University of Connecticut. He returned to Chicago in 1941 as chairman of mechanics research for the Armour Research Foundation where he directed engineers and scientists in mechanical industrial research. He was head of mechanics at Illinois Institute of Technology from 1945 to 1946. He became consultant to the president of Midwest Research Institute in 1947. Two years later he returned to Rensselaer as head of the department of mechanics and organized Rensselaer’s research activities in that area.
Dr. Dohrenwend was named director of Rensselaer’s newly formed Graduate Division in 1952. He became chairman of the science faculty in 1956, dean of the Graduate School in 1957, and dean of the School of Science in 1958. In 1960, Dohrenwend was named vice president and provost. In 1963 he was elected a director of W. & L. E. Gurley Co., in Troy, New York.
In 1971 Dohrenwend retired to Sun City, Arizona and in 1976 he received the Demers Medal. On May 13, 1986, he died in Sun City.