A Nigerian, Yekemi Otaru, has been named Chancellor of the University of the West of Scotland (UWS).
The university, with origins dating back to 1897, made this known via a statement on its website.
Ms Otaru will formally take up the role of Chancellor at the UWS on 1 September 2021, succeeding Dame Elish Angiolini.
The 42-year-old holds four degrees and has considerable industrial experience in engineering and marketing. She is Co-Founder and Executive Director at Doqaru Limited, a prominent Aberdeen-based sales and marketing consultancy.
Otaru is also a board member of Interface, a public sector backed establishment which connects a wide range of organisations from national and international industries to Scotland’s universities, research institutes and colleges, matching them with world-leading academic expertise to help them grow. A bestselling author and social media expert, Otaru is also known for her innovative use of platforms such as LinkedIn.
As Chancellor, Otaru will hold formal powers to confer degrees, diplomas and other academic distinctions, and will represent UWS at key events as an advocate and dignitary.
Reacting to her appointment, Yekemi Otaru said, “I am honoured to have been appointed Chancellor-elect of University of the West of Scotland, following in the footsteps of a remarkable individual in Dame Elish Angiolini.
“We are all living through challenging times, and higher education plays a vital role in society and for our economy. I eagerly look forward to being part of the University, as it continues to carry out world-class research and knowledge transfer initiatives such as in the areas of healthcare and sports science,” she added.
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Professor Craig Mahoney, Principal and Vice-Chancellor at UWS, added: “I am delighted with Yekemi’s appointment as the University’s Chancellor-elect. Yekemi’s values very much align with those of UWS, from her passion for advancing equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) to her commitment to enterprise, and her appointment is reflective of our strategic mission to make a positive difference to wider society.”
Ellie Gomersall, President of the Students’ Union at UWS, said, “Yekemi is a great fit for the role as Chancellor of the University. UWS is a 21st century university and, with Yekemi’s impressive background in social media and as a woman in engineering, her modern approach will be really welcomed. I look forward to having the opportunity to work with her and see what we can achieve together.”
Yekemi Otaru is the first of three children of Dr Raphael and Mrs Sarah Awoseyin of Ayedun in Oke-Ero Local Government Area of Kwara State.
She attended Auntie Rose Primary School at Ugborikoko in Warri and from there proceeded to Federal Government College, Warri, where she did only JSS1 before going to Oman with her parents in 1990. She attended American British Academy (ABA) in Muscat, Oman and returned to Nigeria in 1994 to complete her secondary education at Greater Tomorrow Secondary School (GTSS), Benin City.
From there, she proceeded to the University of Benin where she studied and graduated with a Second Class Upper Division in Chemical Engineering in 2002.
She got married to Gabriel Oghie Otaru – a petroleum engineer with Shell Petroleum, in Port Harcourt in March 2003 during her NYSC.
On completing her NYSC, she was selected by TotalFinaElf in Nigeria to be one of the 20 pioneer intakes into the collaborative MSc Petroleum Engineering programme of France’s Institut Français du Pétrole (IFP) and University of Port Harcourt.
Otaru was one of only six graduates of that programme pioneer set offered a permanent employment by TotalFinaElf. She soon moved to the UK when her husband was transferred to Aberdeen by Shell.
In 2016, she teamed up with Sarah Downs to establish Doqaru Limited, providing knowledge-driven sales and marketing consultancy services to a variety of industries.
In 2016, Otaru was named among the top 40 under-40 business innovators by Scottish Business News.
Another Nigerian, Professor Charles Egbu, has been Vice-Chancellor of Leeds Trinity University since 1 November 2020.