“One of the great secrets of success is to decide what it is that you most enjoy doing, and then find a way to earn a good living in it.”-Napoleon Hill. Right from her childhood, Grace Williams had enjoyed mathematics. And finally, she became a professor of mathematics.
Back in those days, she was regarded at the Margaret Thatcher of Nigeria particularly in the academic circles because of her no nonsense personality.
Born December 16, 1932, in Warri, in present day Delta State, Professor Grace Alele-Williams is an educator. She made history as the First Female Vice-Chancellor of a Nigerian university; University of Benin. She was also the first Nigerian woman to receive a doctorate degree in Mathematics education.
Alele-Williams as she is popularly called by many, attended Government School, Warri, and Queen’s College, Lagos. She attended the University College of Ibadan (now the University of Ibadan). She obtained Masters Degree in Mathematics in 1957 and her Ph.D in Mathematics Education at the University of Chicago (U.S.) in 1963. She made history as the first Nigerian woman to be awarded a doctorate. She returned to Nigeria for a couple of years’ postdoctoral, work at the University of Ibadan before joining the faculty of the University of Lagos in 1965.
She started her teaching career at Queen’s School, Ede Osun State, as a mathematics teacher from 1954 until 1957.. She left for the University of Vermont to become a graduate assistant and later assistant professor. Between 1963 and ’65, Alele-Williams was a postdoctoral research fellow, department (and institute) of Education, University of Ibadan from where she was appointed a professor of mathematics at the University of Lagos in 1976. She was the first female Vice Chancellor in Nigeria.
Professor Grace Awani Alele-Williams was a force to reckon with in the dark period for Nigeria’s higher education. Then, the activities of secret cults, confraternities and societies had spread within the Nigerian Universities especially in University of Benin. She made valuable impacts, with combination of courage, ingenuity and strategy that saw the growing tides of cultism stemmed in the university- task which many men had failed. With special interest in women education, she had spent a decade directing the Institute of Education at the University of Benin and introduced innovative non degree programmes that allowed older women work as elementary school teachers to receive certificates. Alele-Williams had also made a case for female African students to have access to scientific and technological subjects.
Based on her intellectual competence and professional pedigree, she was made to hold and serve in various committees and boards, where she made useful contributions in the development of education in Nigeria. She was chairman of the curriculum review committee, in former Bendel State 1973-1979. From 1979 to 1985, she served as chairman of the Lagos State Curriculum Review Committee and Lagos State Examinations Boards.
Her professional competence in the area of education made her a sought after person by many international organizations. She was a member of governing council, UNESCO Institute of Education.She was also a consultant to UNESCO and Institute of International Education Planning. For a decade (1963–73) she was a member of the African Mathematics Programme, located in Newton, Massachusetts, United States. She was also vice-president of the World Organisation for Early Childhood Education and later president of the Nigerian chapter .Alele-Williams has published a book titled Modern Mathematics Handbook for Teachers.
“Integrity is the foundation value on which all of your values are based. Having true integrity mean that you always live and act consistently with your values. If you lack integrity, you will compromise your other values at the slightest temptation.”-Brian Tracy. After serving as the vice-chancellor of the University of Benin, her integrity earned her she a place in the board of directors’ of blue-chip companies such as of Chevron-Texaco Nigeria. She is also on the board of HIP Asset Management Company Ltd, an Asset Management Company in Lagos, Nigeria. She has published many articles to her credit. She has 5 children and 10 grandchildren.
For making useful contributions to the education of women & the development of education in Nigeria, Professor (Mrs.) Grace Adele Williams is our Somthing2know Amazon of the week. We appreciate her contributions.
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