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Meet Prof. Raji-Oyelade, Most Likely U.I Next Vice-Chancellor

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Professor Aderemi Raji-Oyelade is a strong candidate for the Post of Vice-Chancellor, University of Ibadan

Aderemi Raji-Oyelade gained admission into the Department of English, University of Ibadan in December 1981 and earned three academic degrees from the institution, viz, the Bachelor of Arts (Honours), Second Class Upper (1984); Master’s degree in Literature (1986); and PhD in African American and African Literatures (1994). During his undergraduate days, he served as an Honourable Member (Sultan Bello Hall) in the Students Representative Council (1982/83), Member of the Students Union Caretaker Committee (1983), and the President of the English Club (1983/84). After teaching stints at St. Andrew’s College of Education, Oyo, Ogun State University, Ago-Iwoye, and Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, he was appointed as Lecturer II by his alma mater in 1995. Raji-Oyelade rose through the ranks to become a full Professor of Literature and Cultural Studies in 2007.

He is the author of six books of poetry and the seminal book on the theory of postproverbials in African languages and societies – Playful Blasphemies: Postproverbials as Archetypes of Modernity in Yoruba Culture (Trier, 2012) which has received acclaim as a seminal work in contemporary African studies. A Salzburg Fellow and visiting professor and writer to a number of institutions including Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, Universities of California at Riverside and Irvine, University of Cape Town, South Africa, and Cambridge University, UK, Raji’s scholarly essays have appeared in journals including Research in African Literatures and African Literature Today.
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Using the pen name Remi Raji, his first collection of poems – A Harvest of Laughters (1997) – has won national and international recognition. He has read his poems widely in Africa, Europe and America. In 2005, he served as the Guest Writer to the City of Stockholm, Sweden. His other volumes of poetry include Webs of Remembrance (2001), Shuttlesongs America: A Poetic Guided Tour (2003), Lovesong for My Wasteland (2005), Gather My Blood Rivers of Song (2009) and Sea of My Mind (2013). His works have been translated into French, German, Catalan, Swedish, Ukrainian, Latvian and Croatian.

Prof. Raji-Oyelade has served in different administrative capacities either as Member, Chair or Facilitator of academic and literary programmes within the University of Ibadan and other institutions in Nigeria and abroad. He served as the Faculty’s Sub-Dean (Undergraduate), (1997-1999), Sub-Dean (Postgraduate), (2003-2004), the University of Ibadan Orator (2011-2015), and Member, University of Ibadan Research Foundation (2011 till date). Raji-Oyelade was Member, University Postgraduate Sub-Committee on Guidelines for Writing Doctoral Theses (2003), and later Chairman, Working Committee on the Production of the University Manual of Style for UI Scholars (2003-2004), and the First Editor, Ibadan Journal of English Studies – official journal of the Department of English (2003-2006). He became the Acting Head, Department of English (2009-2011), Substantive Head of Department (2011-2012) and Dean, Faculty of Arts (2012-2015).

As Dean of Arts, Prof. Raji-Oyelade facilitated both workshops and seminars in research development. He coordinated the 1st Faculty of Arts’ Humanities Staff Development Grants for Academic Staff, and created a Virtual Information Board – S.C.O.R.E, an acronym for Scholarship, Conferences and Opportunities for Researchers and Experts. He has served on the Board of the Distance Learning Centre of the University of Ibadan, and continues to serve as the Centre’s Chief Consulting Editor of Resource Materials. He was elected as a Member of the University of Ibadan Governing Council, in July 2019.

Prof. Raji-Oyelade has taken on both national and international administrative assignments over the years. He was Member (later Chairman), of the Joint Admissions & Matriculation Board (JAMB, Literature in English) for Nigerian Universities (1997-2001), a United Nations University Scholar and Poet, under the UNECA Programme, “Africa Information Society Initiative”; Addis Ababa (2003), Member, Editorial Board of Matatu: Journal for African Culture and Society (2006 till date); Member of the Scientific Committee, Colloquium of International Proverb Scholarship. Tavira, Portugal (2007 till date); Organizing Committee Member, African Literature Association, hosted by Western Illinois University, Macomb, IL, USA (2008); Member, International Group for Folklore and Linguistics, University of Pecs, Hungary (2009); Member, Organising Committee for the International Literature Conference, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany (2010); and Facilitator in the Collaborative Relations between University of Ibadan and the University of Cape Town (2010) and the Publishing collaboration between Goethe University of Frankfurt and University of Ibadan (2012 till date). He was elected as the President of the Association of Nigerian Authors (2011-2015). In 2017, Professor Raji-Oyelade was appointed by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) to serve on the panel of experts for the establishment of the Maria Sibylla International Centre for Advanced Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Raji-Oyelade has been a multiple winner of literary and academic prizes, including the ANA/Cadbury Prize, the Ford Foundation Research Grant, the West African Research Council Prize, the Harry Oppenheimer Award, the European Commission’s Erasmus+ Staff Mobility for Teaching Award, and the Humboldt Talent Travel Award.

For his academic brilliance, resourcefulness, and innovative networking abilities, Raji-Oyelade was honoured along four other international scholars with the prestigious Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Alumni Award for the year 2017. He remains till date the only Humboldtian Professor at Ibadan to be so honoured since the prize was instituted in 2009 for scholars in over 140 countries across the world. He is the Coordinator of a multi-site, pan-African research project on the theory and practices of postproverbials in seven African countries.

Professor Raji-Oyelade is a member of the Nigerian Academy of Letters, one-time Secretary of the Nigerian Centre of PEN International, former Secretary of the PEN African Congress, and erstwhile President of the Association of Nigerian Authors. He was recently installed by His Imperial Majesty, the Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Saliu Akanmu Olasupo Adetunji, Aje Ogungunniso I as the Mogaji of Adegboro Compound, Ibadan.
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