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Nigeria’s First Female VC, Grace Alele-Williams Dies at 89


The Nigeria’s First Female Vice-Chancellor, Professor Grace Alele-Williams on Friday, died at the age of 89.

Alele-Williams, who gained prominence after she was appointed as the vice-chancellor of the prestigious University of Benin in 1985, was a Professor of Mathematics, whose tenure witnessed a drastic reduction in cultism, a menace in UNIBEN at the time.

Before her appointment as a vice-chancellor, she made history as the first Nigerian woman to obtain a doctorate degree in Mathematics in 1963, a rare feat in the sixties.


Alele-Williams was born in Warri, Delta State on December 16, 1932. She attended Government School, Warri, in today’s Delta State, Queen’s College, Lagos and the University College of Ibadan (now University of Ibadan).

She bagged a 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 (U.S.) in 1963, thereby making her the first Nigerian woman to be awarded a Doctorate.

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

Meanwhile, the circumstances surrounding her death are unclear, as at the time of filing this report.