10 things to know about Nigeria’s first female Vice Chancellor


Nigeria’s first female Vice Chancellor, Professor Grace Alele-Williams, died on Friday, March 25, 2022, at the age of 89.

Alele-Williams, who was also the first Nigerian female to bag a doctorate, was appointed the Vice Chancellor of the University of Benin in 1985.

Here are 10 things to know about her:

1 – She was born on December 16,1932, in Delta State to an Itsekiri mother and Owan (Edo) father from Sobe.

2 – She went to Government School, Warri; Queens College, Lagos; and the University College of Ibadan (now the University of Ibadan).

3 – She obtained her Master’s degree in Mathematics while teaching at Queen’s School, Ede in Osun State in 1957, and her PhD degree in Mathematics Education at the University of Chicago (US) in 1963, making her the first Nigerian woman to be awarded a doctorate.

4 – She became Nigeria’s first female Professor of Mathematics Education in 1976.

5 – Alele-Williams became the first female Vice Chancellor of a Nigerian university in 1985 when she was made the VC of the prestigious University of Benin, a position she held until 1992.

6 – She was a lecturer at the University of Lagos from 1965 to 1985, and spent a decade directing the Institute of Education, where she introduced non-degree programmes, with many of the certificate recipients older women working as elementary school teachers.

7 – She served as regional vice-president for Africa of the Third World Organisation for Women in Science and was the first president of the African Mathematical Union Commission for Women in Mathematics.

8 – Alele-Williams received multiple awards including: the Order of the Niger in 1987; Fellow of the Mathematical Association of Nigeria; Fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Education; merit award of the old Bendel State in Nigeria. On February 28, 2014, she received the centenary award.

9 – She married a political scientist, Dr. Babatunde A. Williams, in December 1963, who at that time was a Senior Lecturer at the University of Ife, Osun State.

10 – As of 2017, Alele-Williams had five children and 10 grandchildren.

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