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Michael E. Sonntag, Ph.D.
Regional Campus Dean
I grew up in Sheridan, Texas, a small farming and ranching community on the Gulf Coast Plains of Texas, west of Houston. I was a first-generation college student and received my B.A. in psychology from Baylor University in 1989. I met my wife, Jennifer, while attending Baylor, and after we married we moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas, where I attended graduate school. At the University of Arkansas, I obtained an M.A. in Clinical Psychology and a Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology in 1997.
My first academic appointment took us to Lander University in Greenwood, South Carolina, where I taught in the Department of Psychology, served as Director of Assessment and Planning, and served as Chair of the Department of Psychology. In 2007 I accepted the position of Vice President for Academic Affairs (VPAA) at the University of Maine at Presque Isle (UMPI), and in 2010-2011 I served concurrently as Acting Executive Director at the Maine School of Science and Mathematics (MSSM) and Vice President at UMPI.
In 2009, the Maine School of Science and Mathematics Board of Trustees asked me to Chair a search for a new Executive Director, and when the search was extended into the 2010-2011 academic year, the Board asked me to assume the role of part-time Acting Executive Director at MSSM. I served concurrently as Acting Executive Director at MSSM and VPAA at UMPI, returning fulltime with a promotion to Provost at UMPI in 2011.
I was a long-term member of the South Carolina Psychological Association and had the pleasure of serving as its President from 2005-2006. I have served on a variety of community development boards and committees, the Ethics Committee of the Aroostook Medical Center, and I am a member of Rotary International.
My research has examined young children's understanding of life and death concepts, the cognitive underpinnings of metaphor and irony comprehension in young children, the development of paranormal beliefs, terror management theory, and the scholarship of assessment and teaching. In 2014 I left Maine to assume the role of Regional Campus Dean of USC Sumter.
My wife is an Accountant and is currently Chief Financial Officer of Maine Potato Growers (MPG) in Presque Isle, Maine. We have two children, a son, Greyson (age 14), and a daughter, Sarah (age 9). My hobbies include reading, gardening, cooking, and tinkering with computers.