Grace Alele


Grace Alele-Williams (born December 16, 1932) is an Educator who made history as the first Nigerian woman to become the head (Vice Chancellor) of a Nigerian university, the University of Benin. She is also the first Nigerian woman to receive a doctorate degree. She is a professor of mathematics education.

Alele-Williams  was born in Warri. She attended Government School, Warri, and Queen’s College, Lagos. She attended the University College (now the University of Ibadan), the University of Vermont (U.S) and the University of Chicago (U.S).

Her teaching career started at Queen’s School, Ede Osun State,  where she was mathematics master 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 post doctoral 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 has held and served in various capacities. By serving in various committees and boards, Alele-Williams had made useful contributions in the development of education in Nigeria. She was chairman of the curriculum review committee, former Bendel State 1973-1979. From 1979-1985, she served as chairman of the Lagos State Curriculum Review Committee and Lagos State Examinations Boards.

Alele-Williams was a member of governing council, UNESCO Institute of Education. She is 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 Organization for Early Childhood Education and later president of the Nigerian chapter.

Alele-Williams has published a book titled Modern Mathematics Handbook for Teachers. After serving as the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Benin, she joined the board of directors of Chevron-Texaco Nigeria. She is also on the board of HIP Asset Management Company Ltd, an Asset Management Company in Lagos, 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 the growing tide of cultism was stemmed in the university.