U supervisor remembered for

by Ken Eisinger

Services were held Saturday in McNeal Hall on the St. Paul campus for Constance Fabunmi. Fabunmi, the clinical supervisor of the Alcohol and Drug Counseling Education Program at the University’s Department of Family Social Science, died of colon cancer March 15 at her St. Paul home. She was 65.
Fabunmi will be remembered “as a great faculty member and a great and wise teacher,” said Jan Hogan, one of Fabunmi’s colleagues and chairwoman of the counseling program.
“She gave so much to the University and the students.”
Fabunmi worked 21 years as a supervisor and an instructor. She worked closely with the program’s interns and taught honors classes. In 1995 she won the McFarland Creative Teaching Award from the Minnesota College of Human Ecology.
“Her legacy is a legion of well-trained counselors (with) a depth of learning about the process of healing,” said Phillip Colgan, director of the counseling program.
Fabunmi acquired her bachelor’s degree in psychology and literature from Hope College in 1954 and her master’s degree in special education from Gallaudet University in 1956.
She went on to teach English literature in London and Nigeria. Upon her return to the United States in 1966, she acquired a certificate in family therapy from the University.
In addition to her work at the University, Fabunmi travelled to countries like Nicaragua and Croatia to work with families that had been traumatized by war — at times counseling family members on opposing sides of a war.
But Fabunmi approached these conflicts as “solutions waiting to happen,” Colgan said. “She focused on people’s strengths, not their shortcomings.”
“She focused on the good in everything possible,” agreed Fabunmi’s youngest daughter, Rebecca Fabunmi. “She wanted to get people to be as happy as they could be.”
In 1988 Fabunmi received the Irene Hixon Whitney Award for her work in alcohol and drug abuse counseling.
“She’s my hero. She really cared and acted from her heart,” said Rebecca Fabunmi of her mother.
Fabunmi is survived by her sister, Lois Heitcamp of Muskegon Mich.; her son, BaBatunde, of Providence R.I.; two daughters, Lauren of San Francisco and Rebecca of Minneapolis; and two grandchildren, Kiana and Portlyn.
The Department of Family Social Science has established a scholarship in Fabunmi’s name. Donations should be sent to The University of Minnesota Foundation.