Ernest (Ernie) H. Dondis, professor emeritus of psychology who helped launch Cal State Fullerton’s graduate program in clinical psychology, died April 17. He was 96.
Dondis joined the faculty of a young Department of Psychology at Cal State Fullerton in 1966. He served two terms as department chair, and is remembered as an effective administrator who set the tone for collegiality and academic rigor during years of rapid growth for the department and the university.
Dondis was instrumental in establishing a Master of Science degree in clinical psychology that was grounded in psychological science. In addition to teaching courses for the new degree program, Dondis served as its graduate coordinator and as a graduate committee member. Dondis continued to serve on numerous department and university committees during his 23 years at Cal State Fullerton.
As an educator, Dondis taught clinical psychology and history of psychology courses and was popular with his undergraduate and graduate students. He was once voted the department’s outstanding professor of the year. His scholarly activities included contributions to a range of mental health policies and research on the efficacy of treatment for abnormal behavior.
“Dr. Ernie Dondis played an integral role in creating a foundation of excellence in the psychology department,” said Melinda Blackman, chair and professor of psychology.
Dondis grew up in Rockland, Maine, and was known for his amiable personality in his youth. He served in the Marines in the Pacific Theater of World War II, where his duties included fighting in the Battle of Iwo Jima. He completed his bachelor’s degree at Long Beach State College, now Cal State Long Beach, and his doctorate in clinical psychology at UC Berkeley.
He is survived by his partner Frank Fiorillo, three stepchildren, sibling Bertha Taplitsky, nieces and nephews and their children.