• Friday, June 14, 2024
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In memoriam: Grace Alele-Williams in five quotes

Grace Alele-Williams

Grace Awani Alele-Williams, Nigeria’s first female university vice-chancellor of the University Of Benin, has passed on at the age of 89.

Grace was the first Nigerian to be awarded a doctorate. She also became a professor of mathematical education.

Born in Warri, Alele-Williams attended Government School, Warri, and Queen’s College, Lagos, graduating in 1949. As an undergraduate, every summer, Grace returned to Warri to teach mathematics at Hussey College, Warri. She obtained an Honours Degree in Mathematics in 1954 from the University of Ibadan, attended the University of Vermont, before receiving a Ph.D. in mathematics education from the University of Chicago in 1963.

She married Babatunde Abraham Williams, a political scientist in December 1963. By 1965, she was appointed as a Lecturer of Mathematics in the Faculty of Education, University of Lagos, where her husband also took up an appointment.

By 1968, she was promoted to Senior Lecturer at the University of Lagos and by 1974, she had become an Associate Professor of Mathematics, and later Professor of Mathematics at same university.

From 1979 to 1985, she served as chairman of the Lagos State curriculum review committee and Lagos State examinations boards.

Read also: Obaseki, UNIBEN mourn Grace Alele-Williams, Nigeria’s first female Vice Chancellor

She became Vice-Chancellor of the University of Benin in 1985 and ended in 1992.

When she left being Vice-Chancellor, she was on the Board of HIP Asset Management Company and Chevron-Texaco Nigeria.

She was also vice-president of the World Organisation for Early Childhood Education and later president of the Nigeria chapter.

Alele-Williams became the first president of the African Mathematical Union Commission on Women in Mathematics.

Grace Alele-Williams immortalised

Some of Alele-Williams’ publications include: Dynamics of Curriculum Change in Mathematics – Lagos State Modern Mathematics Project, Education and Government in Northern Nigeria. Others are: Science, Technology and Mathematics (STM) Education for all, Including Women and Girls in Africa, to mention a few.

For her distinctive achievements, she received awards in her honour. Some include the Order of the Niger in 1987, Merit Award of Bendel* State in Nigeria, and the centenary award. Grace was a Fellow of the Mathematical Association of Nigeria and the Nigerian Academy of Education. She also received an honorary Doctorate from the University of Benin.

Grace Alele-Williams immortalised in five quotes

Grace Alele-Williams immortalised in five quotes


“To the elderly ones, you are retired but not tired. Just keep doing what you are doing”


“Play hard and keep straight, and continue getting quality education, well informed, so that in any situation you have something positive to contribute”


“Ask yourself over and over again, has the Chibok affair become too late to think about?”


“As long as we are celebrating a woman vice chancellor because she is the first, or a woman chief judge because she is the first, then we have not arrived. We look forward to the time when we will have more women in such positions and we will be celebrating so many of them”


“Let us stop this system of putting women in positions just because of the contacts they have. That is a major reason why we remain a poorly governed and undeveloped country.


*Bendel State is now divided into Edo and Delta states