The death of Nigeria’s first female Vice Chancellor, Prof. Grace Alele-Williams continues to attract glowing tributes; the latest being from the Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege.
Senator Omo-Agege, who represents Delta Central district in the Upper Legislative Chamber, described the first Nigerian woman to earn a doctorate degree as a ‘trailblazer, a true amazon who left indelible footprints in the sands of time during her 89 years on earth’.
In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Yomi Odunuga, the Senate’s No 2 man described the late professor as an exceptional woman who bravely broke new grounds, excelled in intellectual accomplishments and consistently demonstrated concern for the access of female African students to scientific and technological subjects.
Senator Omo-Agege recalled: ‘In the tradition of the legendary amazons, Prof Grace Alele-Williams overcame many odds to become the first Nigerian woman to receive a doctorate degree in 1963, the first female Professor of Mathematics in 1976 and then made history as the first female Nigerian Vice-Chancellor of a Nigerian University in 1985.
‘I feel particularly proud that at my alma mater, the University of Benin where she served as Vice Chancellor from 1985 to 1992, Professor Alele-Williams’ tenure became an excellent test case to demonstrate the executive capability of the Nigerian woman’.
He further said: ‘Much as we miss her, it is noteworthy that this Delta-born exemplar whose life story reflects positive impacts in boards, committees and other positions of service, left us an unforgettable legacy.
‘I have no doubt that while her children and grandchildren find comfort in the fond memories she left behind, Delta State, Nigeria and the whole of humanity owe much to the pioneering spirit and pursuit of excellence by exceptional women like Professor Grace Alele-Williams’.
Prof. Alele-Williams died last Friday. Among her various accomplishments, she served as Regional Vice-President for Africa of the Third World Organisation for Women in Science and was the first President of the African Mathematical Union Commission for Women in Mathematics.
She received multiple awards including the Order of the Niger in 1987, Fellow of the Mathematical Association of Nigeria, Fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Education, Merit Award of the old Bendel State in Nigeria.