WWU president named Woman of Achievement
|5/30/2012||Mary Ann Beahon|
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE||(573) 592-1127|
Dr. Jahnae H. Barnett, president of William Woods University for the past 22 years, has been named a Woman of Achievement by the Zonta Club of Jefferson City.
The award was presented at the 13th annual Yellow Rose Luncheon May 22 at the Capital Plaza Hotel, with about 700 people in attendance. The luncheon is held each year to honor women who have made an impact in the Jefferson City area. Women are recognized for their talent and their willingness to support and give to others.
Proceeds from the event subsidize Zonta’s Second Chance Scholarship Fund, and this year’s five recipients were introduced at the luncheon. To be eligible, the female applicant must be at least 24, have a high school diploma or G.E.D. and must live, work or attend college in the Central Missouri area. Zonta has given more than $170,000 in scholarships to 50 women over the years.
Many of the recipients over the years have been working women attending William Woods University at its Jefferson City site. As Barnett explained in her acceptance speech, when she became president in 1990 she expanded WWU’s mission to provide educational opportunities to working adults. Jefferson City and Columbia were the first locations.
“For many of our students, this gives them a second chance—an opportunity to pursue an education or complete a degree that they might not otherwise have been able to attain,” she said.
Barnett also mentioned another program that serves a much younger audience—young women in their teens who have encountered a difficult family situation or a brush with the law.
“Through a cooperative agreement with the Division of Youth Services, we have made a home on our campus for these teenagers, and it is called the Rosa Parks Center. They eat in our dining hall, attend many of our cultural and athletic events—and they benefit from interaction with college role models who serve as mentors.”
She added, “These are programs we are extremely proud of. These are programs we have instituted to provide that second chance that you Zonta members realize is so very important.”
Barnett has been a catalyst for monumental change at William Woods. Recognizing that “real life” calls for frequent, professional interaction between men and women, she led the transition from a single-sex college to a coeducational university, as well as the introduction of undergraduate and graduate degree programs for working adults. Most recently, William Woods was granted permission by the Higher Learning Commission to offer the Doctorate in Educational Leadership.
Under her guidance, William Woods has evolved from a small, single-campus, rural women’s college with an approximate 500-student enrollment into a state-wide, co-educational university with five permanent sites (including Jefferson City) serving 3,600 students who represent most states and many foreign countries.
Barnett is a rarity in higher education. She is the only president to have been named from within the institution, and William Woods University’s only woman president in its 142-year history. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, when Barnett took the helm of WWU in 1990, only 9 percent of presidents were female and the average presidential tenure was 6.3 years.
William Woods is an institution to which she has devoted her life, having previously spent 17 years as a WWU professor/department chair and vice president.
She has provided strong leadership throughout her years of service to the university, and her professional, leadership and service accomplishments as president are an inspiration to her students, 60 percent of whom are women. She has led the way as the institution has achieved multi-year significant enrollment increases, academic program expansion, cooperative educational opportunities and sustained fiscal strength.
Barnett holds a Bachelor of Science degree in business, with a minor in language arts, from Arkansas State University, where (at 19) she was the youngest graduate. She earned a Master of Business Education degree and (at age 24) a Ph.D. in higher education and student personnel services, both at the University of Mississippi. She has done post-doctoral work at the University of Missouri in institutional development work in higher education.
Frequently recognized for her accomplishments, Barnett has received the National Chief Executive Leadership Award from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE); Missouri’s Inaugural First Lady in Education; and one of nine Missouri and Kansas Icons of Education, selected by Ingram’s, Kansas City’s business magazine.
Fifteen women were finalists for the Woman of Achievement Award, and Barnett was one of two winners selected by a committee of Zonta members in another city. The other was Dr. Laurel Kramer, a psychologist at St. Mary’s Health Center, who created the first Mid-Missouri Empowering Young Women Conference in 1998.
In the past 13 years, 188 women have been honored with nominations or awards during the Zonta Women of Achievement Yellow Rose luncheon.
CUTLINE: Dr. Barnett with the roses she received at the Zonta Women of Achievement Yellow Rose luncheon.