Prof. Felix Ankomah Asante, University of Ghana

Commemoration of Daniel Adzei Bekoe

Professor Daniel Adzei Bekoe passed on to glory on 5 September 2020 at the age of 91.

He was a former Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana, and the second Ghanaian to be appointed Vice Chancellor of the University. The University of Ghana is a premier university in Ghana. Professor Bekoe was appointed Vice Chancellor for an initial five years, from 1 January 1976 to 30 September 1981.

He was reappointed for a second term of five years; however, he informed the university council of his inability to serve the full term. He resigned from the position on 30 September 1983, when he took voluntary retirement from the University of Ghana.

He was one of the first students to be accepted by the newly established University College of the Gold Coast, now called the University of Ghana, to study science in 1948. After studying for a period of five years, he passed the BSC special chemistry degree examination in June 1953. He was the first student of the University College to graduate with a first-class honours degree in the BSC special chemistry program. Professor Bekoe spent a further year at the University College of the Gold Coast, which is now the University of Ghana, researching into crystallography.

In 1954 he proceeded to the University of Oxford as a postgraduate student, while in 1956 he completed a degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Chemical Crystallography.

After graduation, Professor Bekoe worked with Professor K.N. Trueblood, one of the most distinguished American scientists of international standing in the field of crystallography at that time at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Professor Bekoe started his career as a lecturer in chemistry at the University of Ghana in 1958, was promoted to the rank of senior lecturer in 1963, associate professor in 1996 and professor in 1974. From January 1996 to December 1967 Professor Bekoe was a Ford Foundation visiting associate professor in chemistry at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, where he taught physical chemistry and set up a crystallographic laboratory. 

Professor Bekoe gained eminence internationally as a scientist and was highly regarded. Typical of the international view of him is one expressed by Professor Trueblood, who said of him, “In addition to being bright, perceptive and efficient at research in this field of crystallography, Dr Bekoe has all the personal qualities which one would ask for someone in a responsible academic position. He is articulate, thoughtful, considerate and interested in a wide range of fields. Given the opportunity to do research, I am sure he could compete favorably for a good university position in America or in Great Britain, and I believe that any institution that he serves would be fortunate”. 

Professor Bekoe’s service to the University of Ghana was equally distinguished. He served on numerous boards and committees of the university. He was a senior tutor and hallmaster of the premier hall, which is called Legon Hall, and acted as the head of the Department of Chemistry. He was a Dean of the then Faculty of Science from 1971 to 1974, and was elected Vice Chancellor of the University, a post which he held for two terms from 1972 to 1975. 

He was thus an experienced administrator who was very familiar with the problems of the university and competent to handle them. During his academic career at the university, Professor Bekoe served as a member, and later President, of the Ghana Science Association; Fellow and then Vice President of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences, treasurer and later Vice President of the International Council of Scientific Unions, a member of the Council of United Nations University, and fellow of the Chemical Society. For his services to education, science and public service, the State of Ghana made him a member of the Order of the Star of Ghana, which is the highest state honor in 2006. He was also a member of the Council of States, which is supposed to advise the President and later the Chairman of the Council from 2005 to 2008. For his services to the Department of Chemistry and the University of Ghana, the university named after him a building which is a general science laboratory in 2013.

May the soul of our former Vice Chancellor, who served the University of Ghana so well, rest in perfect peace, thank you.