Following the founding of the University College Ibadan in 1948, the Chemistry Department was established at the temporary site at Eleiyele, Ibadan. The first Head of Department in acting capacity was Mr T.B. Child assisted by Messrs Ferdinand Opara, Cletus Onyeoke, Patrick Mowete and Michael Moyegun.
In 1948, Professor R.J. McLlorroy arrived in Ibadan as the substantive Head of Department and Reverend Father Foley arrived in February 1949 to join the Department. Professor J. Hirst and Dr B.D. England joined the Department from the United Kingdom in September 1949.
About the middle of May 1950, Mr R.H. Brett, a glassblower was employed. In September 1950, Mr A.F. Baker was appointed a lecturer in Organic Chemistry while Dr R.K. Caldrow who was on a visit from the Medical Research Council, London to collect herbs, joined the Department for a brief spell.
In 1951, the Laboratory Assistantship Training Scheme was established by Prof McLlorroy and Dr B.D. England was appointed the first supervisor. Just before the end of the 1951/52 session, Prof McLlorroy, the Head of Department, resigned his appointment to take up the directorship of a tea company in India. Dr B.D. England then a senior lecturer acted in his stead from June till December 1952.
In January 1953, C.W.L. Bevan was appointed Professor and Head of Department. He held this position till he retired from the University at the end of the 1965/66 session.
The Department moved from its temporary site at Eleiyele to the permanent site which it presently occupies.
By 1958, the number of senior academic staff as well as student population increased and then the Father Foley Laboratory, E-block and the solvent store were built to cope with the influx.
Prof. Bevan being a senior lecturer at the University of London before coming to join the staff in the Department was well connected and was able to use his strong influence to the advantage of the University. He embarked on staff recruitment and research development. He even went on a tour of some secondary schools in the country to see facilities available for teaching sciences particularly chemistry. It was during one of such visits that he discovered Mr Akinsanya (now late Professor) at the Ijebu-Ode Grammar School where he taught Chemistry though he obtained a first class honours degree in Chemistry at the University of Leeds, UK. Dr. Akinsanya became the first Nigerian academic staff to join the Department as an Assistant Lecturer. Prof Akinsanya was soon joined by Prof. S.J. Una in 1956.
Prof. E.U. Emovon was the first Chemistry Honours student and was in fact the only student in his class when he obtained his degree in 1955. He later undertook his postgraduate work partly in Ibadan and partly at the University of London. He was subsequently appointed a lecturer in 1958. The following year Professor A.U. Ogon was also appointed.
By 1966 just before Prof Bevan resigned his position, no fewer than 8 former students had been appointed as members of staff. By this time the student population had increased considerably. Similarly the number of staff, both academic and technical, had increased as well.
Prof Bevan was succeeded by Prof J. Hirst who continued the noble achievements of his predecessor. In 1978, Professor T.O. Bamkole became the first Nigerian to be Head of Department taking over from Prof. J.G. Beetlestone and he and his successors were able to ensure that the reputation of the Department as a shining light did not diminish.
Other Heads to have followed Prof. Bamkole were, Prof J.A. Faniran (1981-84), Prof J.I. Okogun (1984-87), Prof E.K. Adesogan (1987-90), Prof. G.B. Ogunmola (1990-93), Prof D.A. Okorie (1993-96), Prof. B.B. Adeleke (1997-1999), Prof. S.O. Ajayi (2000-2002), Prof. O. Ekundayo (2003-2005), Prof. O. Osibanjo (2006-2008) and Prof. R.A. Oderinde (2009-2012). The current Head of the Department is Prof. A.A. Adesomoju.
Quite a lot of students have passed through the Department and many of them have become important figures in the society.