It was a journey of 44 years where Prof. Olabisi Ugbebor served the University of Ibadan with great achievements to be applauded.
With a memorable pen, Prof. Olabisi Ugbebor’s name was written on the history of Mathematicians both at home and abroad. She obtained her Ph.D. in Mathematics at the early age of 25.
Phobia for learning was the exact opposite description for the then young Prof Olabisi Ugbebor, who was a passionate lover of studying. Right from childhood, Prof Olabisi Ugbebor could recollect been in tears to go to school alongside her siblings. Her parents had to plead with the headmaster of her school to give her a seat at the back of the class. From her back seat, Prof Olabisi Ugbebor came front (first) in her class. And she was promoted to the next class.
Her outstanding performance saved her parents the responsibility of paying her school fee, as she was on scholarship all throughout her school days.
Her high school days were completed at Queen’s College, Yaba Lagos on full scholarship from the company her father worked. She proceeded to the University of Ibadan still on scholarship.
Prof Olabisi Ugbebor met confrontations in class on her first day on campus as the only girl in a class of boys. Her lecturer asked that an equation be solved and only Prof Olabisi Ugbebor had the answer to the question. She walked right to the broad and provided answers. After the class, the boys asked, the dare you question, but she gave a bold answer of confidence. She said, “Look, I came from Queen’s College, we used to compete among ourselves so, you have to change your dirty and negative orientation. You cannot stop me.”
After her successful days at the University of Ibadan, she was sent on scholarship by UI to the University of London, the first university statistics department in the world to further her studies. There she completed her thesis on Sample Path Properties of Brownian Motion (1976) at the age of 25.
When she returned to Nigeria, she was employed as lecturer II in the Mathematics Department of the University of Ibadan. Within a space of about 3 years, she was promoted to “Lecturer I” in the Mathematics Department University of Ibadan. She was also promoted to Associate Professor.
Prof Olabisi Ugbebor is a member of notable associations around the world. Among others are the Nigerian Mathematical Society, African Economic Society, Third World Organisation of Women in Science, Italy, London Mathematical Society, and many others.
She was also the first female Ag. Head, Department of Mathematics, University of Ibadan.
On her retirement from service at U.I at age 70, her husband Curtis Ugbebor said, her life spans many areas of human life but would rather eulogize her on what he called the trilateral acronym of ACR with A standing for achievements, C for Christianity, and R for relationships. According to him, her academic achievements are so numerous to the extent that her contributions in the field of Mathematics are globally acknowledged and can be sourced by reference to her many scholarly publications in various journals from different parts of the world.
He also mentioned how thorough she is when proof reading her students’ work; this is because she always aims to bring her students to such a standard of excellence that they can favorably compete with their counterparts anywhere in the world.”
While others commended her achievements academically, several others appraised her ability to build relationships with people – both the poor and the rich, the educated and the illiterate. Her impactful method of teaching mathematics was also commended by her fellow lecturers.