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6 Summer 2008
r. Jahnae H. Barnett, president of William Woods
University for the past 18 years, is the inaugural
First Lady in Education.
First Lady Melanie Blunt created the First Lady Awards to
celebrate history-making Missouri women in fve categories
(Business and Innovation, Culture and Humanities, Education,
Health and Wellness and Volunteerism) as part of Women's
History Month in March.
Barnett has been at William Woods in various roles since
1973 and was appointed president in 1990. As president,
she led the management team in the development of
undergraduate and graduate degree programs for working
adults, transition from college to university status, and transition
from single-sex to coeducational enrollment.
Under her guidance, the university has maintained fscal
stability and growth while expanding enrollment from 500
to more than 3,000 students representing most states and
many foreign countries. Through its outreach program, WWU
has taken its degree programs to approximately 125 locations
in Missouri and has begun offering programs in Arkansas.
Barnett’s accomplishments have been acknowledged frequently
as she has been the recipient of numerous awards, including
the “National Chief Executive Leadership Award” from the
Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE),
“Ole Miss Alumni of the Year,” “Arkansas State University
Distinguished Alumna,” “Arkansas State University Outstanding
Business Alumni,” Mid-Missouri Magazine‘s “Twenty Most Infu-
ential Women in Mid-Missouri” and “Woman of Achievement,”
selected by the National Alpha Omicron Pi Foundation.
A committee appointed by the Missouri Women's Council
evaluated more than 300 nominations. The Missouri Chamber
of Commerce and Industry sponsored the inaugural First
Lady Awards. The nominees and recipients of the First Lady
Awards were honored at a ceremony March 4 at the Missouri
Governor's Mansion.
Blunt personally contacted each of the winners to congratulate
them for this achievement. “I am honored to recognize these
fve women, along with the more than 300 nominees, for their
contributions to Missouri,” Blunt said. “I congratulate the winners
and thank all the outstanding women who were nominated for
making a signifcant and lasting impact on our state, our nation
and our world.”
President Barnett:
Lady in
By Mary Ann Beahon
Above: Dr. Jahnae H. Barnett (left),
WWU president, accepts the First
Lady in Education award from
Govenor Matt Blunt and
his wife, Melanie.