Nigeria’s first female university vice-chancellor and first female doctoral degree holder, Grace Alele-Williams, is dead.
It was gathered that the retired professor of mathematics education died on Friday.
Though there is yet no official confirmation by either the family of the deceased or the University of Benin, Edo State, where she had served as a vice-chancellor, an official of the Queen’s College, one of Nigeria’s 104 unity colleges where she was an alumnus, broke the news.
Sources in the school, who asked not to be named because they were not authorised to speak on the matter, confirmed the development.
Neither calls nor messages to the UNIBEN’s spokesperson, Benedicta Ehanire, on Friday night were replied as of the time of filing this report.
But one of the messages shared on Queen’s College’s WhatsApp platforms, reads in part; “We lost a Great Queen’s College Old Girl Today. An amazon And a legend- Professor Grace Alele-Williams, first Female Vice Chancellor of a Nigerian University ( UNIBEN).”
The late Alele-Williams, an educationist, was born on December 16, 1932, in Warri, in the present-day Delta State.
The deceased made history when she became the first female vice-chancellor at the University of Benin (UNIBEN), Edo State.
She was also the first Nigerian woman to receive a doctorate.
Mrs Alele-Williams attended Government School, Warri; Queen’s College, Lagos and the University College, Ibadan, now University of Ibadan.
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.