Published on January 3rd, 2014 | by SMUMN0
New role, same wisdom for Father Fabian
Father Andrew C. Fabian, OP, readily admits he’s not a fan of the technological age. Ironically, the long-time Saint Mary’s University philosophy professor is more virtually connected than most.
CAPTION: Father Andrew C. Fabian has taught at Saint Mary’s for 48 years. The walls of his office are filled with photos of those whose lives he has touched.
For starters, there’s his Facebook page and his YouTube video. Even T-shirts with his image were designed by students as a fundraiser and touted via e-mail. His endless clever words of wisdom, imparted among Saint Mary’s students for 48 years, can be readily found with a diligent “Google” search.
“I don’t remember giving them permission to do that,” he said with a twinkle, a smile and a deadpan tone. “I think I’ll sue.”
Father Fabian says he’s not a fan of all the attention; he’s always just wanted to teach. Throughout his lengthy career, he estimates he’s handed out more than 15,000 grades plus the 156 he dolled out in spring — officially the last grades of his career.
Rest assured, with a new title change — Lasallian Scholar in Residence — Saint Mary’s will not “have a void.” The legendary teacher has retained his office on campus and is continuing to play a valuable role: guest lecturing and tutoring students.
“And I’ll try to catch up with those I should have caught up with a long time ago,” he said. No doubt his Christmas card list will only continue to grow. Already, he estimates he sends out 300 special letters to alumni, colleagues and friends. And the photographs of the countless students who correspond with him will continue to plaster the walls of 333 Saint Mary’s Hall.
Inside that office Father Fabian stores every grade book from every class he has taught.
He’s also renowned for giving roll call the first day of class, without referring to a list, causing many a raised eyebrow in his class. “I made it my business to take roll without the list; I would memorize it,” he said simply. And, when students are mysteriously absent from class, generations of alumni can remember receiving personal phone calls during which they are told, “There was a void in my life today.”
It’s all part of keeping students on their toes. “I enjoy teaching, and I don’t let students get away with sloughing off,” he said. “They don’t get away with murder with me.” Along with humorous chastising, Father Fabian is known for his inspirational quotes as well.
Few are the students who cannot recite his mantra:
“Good, Better, Best. Never let it rest. Until the good become better and the better become best. Why? Because the human mind and heart were made for the best and will never be at rest until they get the best. So hitch your wagon to a star. Aim high because if you aim low you just might end up below the below. And who in his or her right mind wants to end up below the below? Answer: no one, in his or her right mind.”
“Good, Better, Best. Never let it rest. I tell them, so many of them have too many resting stops,” he said with a chuckle.
Some other favorite Fabianisms:
“Liars figure, but figures do not lie.”
“Make sure you don’t find yourself up the logical creek without a paddle.”
The phrases are endless.
“People ask me how I come up with them; I don’t know. I just make them up as we go along,” Father Fabian said. Looking back on his career, he most fondly remembers helping a lot of kids get out of a rut. “That’s what I’ll miss,” he adds. “But I’ll still be here. Maybe I’ll live forever.”
Before Saint Mary’s: Originally from Ohio, Father Fabian said he knew he would enter the preisthood when he was a young boy. He attended Providence College in Rhode Island from 1945-1947; Aquinas Institute of Philosophy in River Forest, Ill., from 1950 to 1953; and the Aquinas Institute of Theology, Dubuque, Iowa from 1953-1957. He worked at DePaul University from 1957 to 1962 and was transferred to Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa from 1962 to 1964 before coming to Saint Mary’s in 1964.
Career highlights: In 1981 he was honored with SMU’s Brother Charles Severin Award for Excellence in Teaching; in 2002, he was bestowed Letters of Affiliation by the De La Salle Christian Brothers; and in 2012, he was awarded the Presidential Award for Outstanding Merit at the Chicago Centennial Celebration. But Father Fabian said a career highlight includes living in Saint Edward’s Hall and Saint Joesph’s Hall and surviving all those ‘crazy actions’ by students.