**James Ezeilo** was a Nigerian mathematician who worked in the theory of ordinary differential equations. He was the first professor of mathematics in Nigeria and went on to become vice chancellor of two Nigerian universities.

- Josiah Ezeilo was a catechist at various Anglican missions in Eastern Nigeria while Janet was trader.
- Josiah and Janet had four sons, with James being the second.
- During the period that Ezeilo attended the Memorial Grammar School its principal was E D C Clark who raised the standards of the school in arts, science and technical subjects.
- Ezeilo graduated from the Dennis Memorial Grammar School in 1948 and, having achieved the highest marks in the University Entrance Examination, he entered the new University College Ibadan (now the University of Ibadan) in 1949 to study mathematics.
- Ezeilo had a highly successful undergraduate career winning many departmental prizes, faculty prizes, and the University of Ibadan Major Scholar Award.
- There was a number of world class mathematicians teaching at Cambridge during the years that Ezeilo studied there, including J W S Cassels, Michael Atiyah, Frank Smithies, Abram Besicovitch and Mary Cartwright.
- It was Cartwright who became Ezeilo's thesis supervisor and advised him during his research on ordinary differential equations.
- These events seemed to be the reason that Ezeilo left the University of Ibadan in 1966 to take up the position of Professor of Mathematics at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
- Ezeilo became head of the Department of Mathematics in 1967 but, in July 1967, Nsukka became one of the first Biafran town to be captured by Nigerian forces.
- Ezeilo took up his position as head of the Department of Mathematics in 1970 but in November of that year he was appointed as Acting Vice-Chancellor.
- At this point Ezeilo returned to his position of head of the Department of Mathematics.
- In 1975 Ezeilo was appointed as the Vice Chancellor, taking over from Herbert Kodilinye, and so became the fifth Vice Chancellor.
- This university only became independent in 1977 under the Vice Chancellor Mahmud Tukur, and Ezeilo became the second Vice Chancellor in 1978.
- After a year in the United States, Ezeilo returned to Nigeria in 1980, again taking up his position as head of the Department of Mathematics at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
- In 1996 Professor Ezeilo went to University of Botswana for one year as a visiting Professor of Mathematics.
- Professor Ezeilo was a very animated, enterprising, philosophical but pragmatic man with plenty of ideas.

Born 17 January 1930, Nanka, Orumba North Local Government Area, Anambra State, Nigeria. Died 4 January 2013, Lagos, Nigeria.

View full biography at MacTutor

African, Origin Nigeria

**Oâ€™Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F**: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive