Professor Grace Alele-Williams, Nigeria’s first female vice chancellor dies aged 89


By Ismail Auwal

Nigeria’s first female university vice chancellor as well as the first female doctorate degree holder, Grace Alele-Williams, has died at the age of 89, PREMIUM TIMES reports.

Before her death, she was a Professor of Mathematics, having achieved a number of firsts, including being the first female to obtain a Doctorate Degree in Nigeria.

Though neither the deceased’s family nor the University of Benin, Edo State, where she had served as vice-chancellor have confirmed the news, an official of Queen’s College, one of Nigeria’s 104 unity colleges where she was an alumnus, broke the news.

What led to her death is still unclear as of the time of filing this report.

She obtained a master’s degree in mathematics while teaching at Queen’s School, Ede in Osun State in 1957 and her PhD also in Mathematics. She was born on December 16, 1932 in Warri, present day Delta State.

Born Grace Awani Alele; she adopted the Alele-Williams name by which she is now known after her marriage to Babatunde A Williams. She attended Government School, Warri, and Queen’s College, Lagos, graduating in 1949. In that year she entered University College Ibadan, now the University of Ibadan, and graduated with an Honours Degree in Mathematics in 1954. 

She returned to her alma mater in 1957 to receive a master’s degree in mathematics and her PhD degree in mathematics education at the University of Chicago (U.S.) in 1963, thereby making her the first Nigerian woman to be awarded a doctorate.

Mrs Alele-Williams returned to Nigeria for a couple of years’ postdoctoral work at the University of Ibadan before joining the University of Lagos in 1965.

She was in 1985 appointed the vice-chancellor at UNIBEN and held the office until 1992.

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