A Nigerian, Yekemi Otaru, has been appointed Chancellor of University of the West of Scotland.
The university disclosed this in a statement on its website.
Otaru was described as an inspirational entrepreneur renowned for her passionate commitment to equality, diversity, and inclusion.
“Yekemi Otaru, a tireless passionate supporter of women in business and an active mentor of business owners in the world’s poorest countries, will formally take up the role of Chancellor at the University of the West of Scotland on 1 September 2021, succeeding Dame Elish Angiolini,” the statement said.
Otaru, 42, 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.
She is also a board member of Interface, 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, 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.
“Now is the perfect time for me to be joining the University’s journey in inspiring and educating the next generation of graduates, equipped with the skills needed to help society recover from the pandemic.”
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.
“Yekemi is a remarkable example of entrepreneurship and a tremendous role model for our students and wider University community. I am delighted to welcome her to the UWS family.
“I would also like to pay tribute to Dame Elish Angiolini, who has been an outstanding Chancellor and ambassador for the University. I am deeply grateful for the committed and inspirational role she has played in our UWS community.
“The appointment represents another important moment in UWS’s history, as the role of Chancellor passes from one major figure to another.”
Angiolini, who steps down from the role, said: “It has been a great honour to represent UWS as its Chancellor, and I have truly enjoyed each one of my eight years in this role. Yekemi has my very best wishes and I am sure that she will enjoy being part of the very welcoming UWS community.”
Ellie Gomersall, President of the Students’ Union at UWS, added: “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.”
Otaru’s appointment comes at an exciting time for UWS, and follows last year’s launch of Strategy 2025 – a bold vision laying out the foundations for the university to achieve even greater excellence on the world stage.
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. Her younger siblings are Mrs Adenike Onyia (a geologist and educationist based in the UK) and Raphael Segun Awoseyin (a software professional based in France).
She attended Auntie Rose Primary School at Ugborikoko, Warri. She had her secondary education at Federal Government College, Warri, where she did only JSS1 before going to Oman with her parents in 1990.
She attended American British Academy (ABA)-a multi-racial high school in Muscat, Oman and returned to Nigeria in 1994 to complete her secondary education at Greater Tomorrow Secondary School (GTSS), Benin City.
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 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.
She was one of only six graduates of that pioneer programme offered a permanent employment by TotalFinaElf. She soon moved to the UK when her husband – a Petroleum Engineer with Shell was transferred to Aberdeen.
In 2016, Otaru teamed up with Sarah Downs to establish Doqaru Limited, providing knowledge-driven sales and marketing consultancy services to a variety of industries.
She was named among the top 40 under-40 business innovators by Scottish Business News in 2016.
In September 2018, she was appointed to the board at Interface, a public sector backed establishment helping Scottish businesses work more closely with academic institutions to drive innovative projects.