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In Memoriam: Forster Ndubisi, FASLA

By Dr. Chiedu Ndubisi and Ichie Akudinobi Ihiala 

Professor Forster Ndubisi, Ph.D., MLA, FCELA, FASLA, born on November 26, 1955, passed on to eternal life on Friday, March 4, 2022. He was born as the first child of six siblings to the family of Sir Dr. Bennett E.C. & Lady May Ndubisi of Umuonwusobara-Ogboro village, Ihiala in Ihiala Local Government Area of Anambra State in Nigeria.

Forster Onyeabo Ndubisi -- Onyii as his family fondly called him, or McF by his friends -- was a Professor and former head of the Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning at Texas A & M University. He was also a Senior Fellow with the Hazard Reduction and Recovery Center. Prior to that, he was the Founding Director of the Interdisciplinary Design Institute and Professor of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning at Washington State University in Spokane for 8 years.

He held degrees in zoology, landscape architecture, and urban and regional planning. His teaching, research and practice focused on ecological-oriented design and planning, community planning and design, smart growth, and sustainable regionalism. He served as a town planning and landscape architecture consultant to many communities and agencies in Canada, U.S.A., Nigeria, and Kenya. He co-designed a master plan for a new Medical City in Akwa Ibom, Nigeria (2015). He delivered numerous lectures worldwide.

An accomplished academic, Professor Ndubisi received numerous research awards, including the Council of Educator of Landscape Architecture President’s Award (1993). He was a co-recipient of Georgia President’s Award for Excellence in Professional Achievement (1994). His book, The Ecological Design and Planning Reader published in December 2014, received the Texas Chapter of American Society of Landscape Architects Award for Excellence in March 2015. Professor Ndubisi also received the 2016 Distinguished Member Award from the Texas Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architecture.

In 2009 and 2010, Design Intelligence ranked Forster as one of the “25 Most Admired Educators” in American’s best architecture and design schools. He received the Council of Educators of Landscape Architecture (CELA)'s Outstanding Administrator Awardin 2011 and the Outstanding Educator Award in 2016. He was a past President of the CELA and past Vice President for Research and Information for the Landscape Architecture Foundation (2008-16). He was also the past Chair of the CELA Academy of Fellows and immediate past Secretary of the ASLA Council of Fellows.

He authored the award-winning book, Ecological Planning: A Historical and Comparative Account that won the prestigious Choice Best Academic Title in 2003. His research on Ecological Planning won the only American Society for Landscape Architecture Honor Award for Research in 1999. He authored two other books, as well as numerous book chapters and peer reviewed articles. His most recent book, Ecological Thinking in Practice, is in the press.

Forster was a parents’ and teachers’ delight when he was in school, particularly on prize giving days when he carted away an unfair proportion of the prizes on offer for the day. He was kind and generous, highly personable, and self-effacing. His humanity was exceptional, his sense of loyalty boundless, and he remains an inspiration to his family, colleagues, and friends, encrypted in our hearts.

He is survived by his lovely wife, June; daughter, Danielle; and four siblings; as well as numerous uncles, aunties, cousins and relatives strewn across the globe.

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