Nigeria’s first female vice-chancellor Grace Alele-Williams dies at 89

Former UNIBEN and Nigeria first Vice-Chancellor Prof Grace Alele-Williams

Nigeria’s first female vice-chancellor of a university Prof. Grace Alele-Williams has died at age 89.

A former commissioner for higher education in Delta State, and also former head of the department of English at the University of Lagos, Prof. Hope Eghagha, confirmed Alele-Williams died on Friday.

Alele-Williams, who was also the first woman to receive a doctorate in Nigeria, died at an undisclosed hospital in Lagos.

Born on December 16, 1932, the late professor of mathematics education was appointed vice-chancellor of the University of Benin in 1985.

She believed her appointment at the University of Benin, which ended in 1992, was a test case to demonstrate a woman’s executive capability.

Her PhD degree in mathematics education at the University of Chicago in 1963 made her the first Nigerian woman to be awarded a doctorate.

Professor Alele-Williams was chairman of the African Mathematical Union Commission for Women in Mathematics.

She got married to Babatunde Williams in December 1963, not long after returning to Nigeria from the United States. Her husband, a political scientist was, at the time of their marriage, a senior lecturer at the University of Ife, Osun State. As of 2017, Alele-Williams had five children and 10 grandchildren.