Toast to the inimitable Professor Olabisi Ugbebor @70

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Happy birthday to Professor Olabisi O. Ugbebor who joins the league of the Septuagenarians today. By the reason of her attainment of age  seventy years, she also bows out of active service. Mrs Ugbebor is a Professor of Mathematics at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria where  she had taught, lectured and researched for about 44 years.

She is a woman of many firsts. She is the first Nigerian woman to obtain a Ph.D degree in Mathematics at the University of London in 1976 at age 25.

She is the first Nigerian woman to be appointed Head of Department of Mathematics, University of Ibadan. She is the first woman Professor of Mathematics in the University  of  Ibadan. The first female Professor of Mathematics in Nigeria. The First Mathematician ( male or female) to be appointed Chair of Pastor Enoch A. Adeboye Professorial Chair in Mathematics at the University of Ibadan (2014 to date). First President of the Nigerian Women in Mathematics ( NWM). She is the woman to deliver an Inaugural Lecture from the Department of Mathematics, University of Ibadan. She is the first woman ever to be elected Fellow of the Nigerian Mathematical Society (FNMS). She is a reciprocity member of London Mathematical Society. A member, Third World Organization of Women in Science, Italy (1993-date). A member of Bernoulli Society for Mathematical Statistics and Probability .

Professor Ugbebor is a thorough-bred teacher. Her numerous students, among which are Professors, Ph.D holders, doing great things in the academia today, always attest to her admirable and excellent ways of imparting knowledge. Her teaching style can make most uninterested students love Mathematics.  She could teach Mathematics to students from several and distinct backgrounds.

A pious and devout Christian, she is an ordained Deaconess at Oritamefa Baptist Church, Ibadan where she has equally served at other levels.

She is an advocate of more participation and involvement of women in Mathematics. Her advocacy is paying off as the number of women doing Mathematics at Ph.D level has increased. There are more women lecturers in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Ibadan compared to when she joined the department in 1976 as the only woman lecturer.

Her desire to teach Mathematics not just at the University level but at all levels was built during her doctoral education in London. She talks about that time: “…they called all of us, they said, ‘how many of you are going back to the University level to teach ?’ I raised my hands. So, there was a special workshop that was arranged. They said which is the driest subject that people find difficult to understand at that level? That is Algebra. So, they assembled some random people who hated algebra to the core and said I should teach them the concept. They all passed, so they said I could teach at all levels; not only the University, that I must teach at all levels since I have the gift of imparting knowledge.”

Undoubtedly, she can teach excellently at all levels. My personal encounter with her is a testament. I will cherish it forever. She is a good teacher, an encourager. This woman is surely a gem. A rare gift to Nigeria.

A respected and worthy Ìjèsà girl, she was born in Lagos on January 29, 1951 to Pa Abraham Olanipekun Falode of Omofe, Ilesa and Mrs Beatrice Tinuola Falode (nee Makanjuola) of Igbogi, Ilesa. She attended an Awolowo school, a free primary school set up by the late sage, Obafemi Awolowo. Her secondary school was at Queen’s College, Lagos on G.B. Ollivant’s scholarship. Her undergraduate degree programme in 1969 was on Federal Government scholarship. She was the only female student in a class of seven mathematics major students. Her doctoral degree was on the University of Ibadan scholarship.

She is married to Engr Curtis Ugbebor and they are blessed with children and grandchildren.

Professor Olabisi Ugbebor has had a distinguished and illustrious career in active service . Mama, as she is fondly called by many of her students, here is wishing you a happy birthday and happy retirement. May God bless you and all yours. May you continue to be around in solid and good health.

▪︎Shola Ogunniyi, a Financial Risk Advisor, sent in this tribute from Ibadan.
Friday , January 29, 2021

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