Campus Gist

Meet The First Female Professor In OAU Dental School

Professor Olawunmi A. Fatusi


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One of the criteria for success is humility. Unfortunately, not many people know this simple philosophy of life. This is not the case with Professor Fatusi whom many reckon to be humility personified. Despite the fact that she’s one of the most successful women in Nigeria today, she’s not given to blowing the trumpet. Perhaps, this is the reason behind her formidable achievements as a wife, mother, tutor, and a dentist. A quintessential example of a truly modern African woman—brilliant, ambitious, hardworking, disciplined, and at the same time displaying her gender and socio-political prowess.

She’s a trailblazer. She was the first female president of Obafemi Awolowo University Dental Students Association, IFUDSA, in 1985 as well as being the only female president of the National Association of Dental Students, NADS, till date.

She was also the first female consultant in the department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at the Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospitals Complex and the first female professor of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery in Nigeria. She was also a former dean of the Faculty of Dentistry, Obafemi Awolowo University.


Join us as we unravel the past, the present and a glimpse of the future of a great woman.

Channel 32: Can you please introduce yourself, ma?

I am Olawunmi Fatusi. A Christian, and married with a daughter. I am an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon.


Channel 32: Tell us about your early life?

I had a very humble background. I had a sound education. I attended a missionary school which was taken over by the federal Government years after I had left—St. Anne’s School, Ibadan for my secondary school education and also Federal Government Girl’s College Bida for my A level studies but could not complete this due to ill health. I had my university education at the Obafemi Awolowo University then known as the university of Ife in 1980. I had my BSc in 1984 and my B.Ch. D in 1987. So, in terms of education, I had the best education.


Channel 32: What informed your choice of dentistry?

I wanted to study medicine. I tried to play a fast one by filing a dual application: UME and Direct Entry, I would not lose much as a result of my ill health. However, the dual application was cancelled. I then wrote another UME from my sick bed and was not expecting to meet the cut-off mark for medicine. I was advised by an uncle to choose dentistry whose cut-off mark was lower hoping that by the time I gained admission, I would change to medicine. Back then in my days, dentistry was not a popular course. When the results came out, I scored higher than the cut-off mark for medicine but proceeded to register dentistry thinking that I would cross over to medicine once I get into medical school. Unfortunately—though I now consider it personally fortunate—the inter-faculty transfer was stopped. This is how I now got to complete my study in dentistry.


Channel 32: Can you compare the training now to what was obtainable during your time?

Well, I must say that things have really changed. During my early training days, there were fewer students with many patients to attend to. We were only seven in the class. There was enough equipment available for training of students in comparison to what holds now. However, during my days, students were not given class notes. Rather, students listen and jot in class and develop their notes through study of journals and texts. Many of us in Ife had to travel to libraries at the University of Ibadan and Lagos to access journals and form notes. While I appreciate that there are now more challenges students are facing including increasing academic requirements, by my assessments, there is a general decline in the standard of education with inadequate facilities available for training and with students wanting to do less.


Channel 32: Can you please comment on the area of mentorship as regards the student-lecturer relationship?

Let me use this as an example because I used to have a bad impression about my mentor. In my final year as a dental student, Prof. Odusanya, my mentor said something that touched me. He said that people who grumble about life will never do well. That made me cry. Since then, I have learnt to use challenges as stepping stones. Later, I came back to Ife for my housemanship. This really surprised him and her asked me why I changed my mind barely 3 to 4 months after leaving school since he knew I had no prior plans to return to Ife for my house job.

As a mentor, he knew our aspirations, he understood our weaknesses and helped us address those weaknesses especially with respect to our academic and professional training. He molded us into great vessels and this took a lot of selflessness on our path as mentees. Students don’t want to be mentored because this generation isn’t used to scolding. To me, you cannot mentor someone who doesn’t listen to hard truth. Anyone who wants to be my friend must be ready for the bitter truth. So, mentorship can only happen when students are only humble enough tom receive tutelage designed by the mentor NOT asking the mentor to follow the plan drawn by the mentee. The younger ones should take time to reach out to the older ones. Many are willing to walk the path with their students.


To be continued…

One thought on “Meet The First Female Professor In OAU Dental School

  1. Oluwatola Toluwani says:

    Waiting for the full interview, this is so loaded.

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