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As graduating seniors prepare to leave William Woods
University, President
Jahnae H. Barnett
likes to tell them
that “the rest of your life will be the best of your life.” While
she frmly believes that WWU has prepared them to “move
on,” Barnett has no plans to move on anytime soon.
Barnett joined the WWU faculty in 1973 and has never left.
She served as chair of the business division for 10 years,
and vice president of admissions, retention and develop-
ment for seven years. She assumed the offce of president
in April, 1990, and in October she will celebrate the 20th
anniversary of her inauguration as the 12
president of the
university she loves so much.
She has been a catalyst for monumental change at William
Woods. Her achievements have included the transition from
a single-sex college to a coeducational university and the
introduction of undergraduate and graduate degree
programs for working adults.
Under Barnett’s guidance, William Woods University has
expanded to more than 150 degree program locations in
Missouri and Arkansas, with enrollment increasing from
500 to approximately 3,800 students who represent most
states and many foreign countries.
WWU also has maintained strong fscal standing. The
2009-2010 year marked the ninth consecutive year of
operating with a balanced budget.
Based on her position and commitment to William Woods
University, 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 140-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
while she has served for 20 years, the average tenure
for a president is 8.5 years.
President Barnett Celebrates 20 Years
in Higher Education
By Mary Ann Beahon