Nigeria’s first female Vice-Chancellor, Professor Grace Alele-Williams is dead. She died on Friday at the age of 89.
Alele-Williams, a professor of mathematics gained prominence after she was appointed the vice-chancellor of the prestigious University of Benin in 1985.
Her tenure witnessed a drastic reduction in cultism, a menace in UNIBEN at the time.
Before her appointment as vice-chancellor, she made history as the first Nigerian woman to obtain a doctorate degree in Mathematics education in 1963, a rare feat in the sixties.
Alele-Williams was born in Warri, Delta State, and attended Government School, Warri; Queen’s College, Lagos, and the University College of Ibadan (now University of Ibadan).
She obtained a master’s degree in mathematics while teaching at Queen’s School, Ede in Osun State in 1957 and her Ph.D. 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.
President Muhammadu Buhari had facilitated with the former VC on her 89th birthday in December 2021, applauding her role in sanitising UNIBEN of cultism.
“President Buhari congratulates the educationist on her achievements over many years, inspired by the vision and hard work, becoming the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in Nigeria (1963), and using her resources to create opportunities for other women, particularly in getting an education,” partly read the statement issued by Buhari’s spokesperson, Femi Adesina.