WWU President Honored as Leader by Arkansas State University

Dr. Jahnae H. BarnettDr. Jahnae H. Barnett, who is nearing the 20th anniversary of her inauguration as president of William Woods University, has been named one of the 100 most successful leaders by the Arkansas State University Alumni Association.


Barnett is being honored in the centennial issue of the association’s publication, titled “100 Years, 100 Voices.” Arkansas State University, which was founded in 1909 and has more than 63,000 alumni, chose to honor this select group in celebration of its 100th anniversary.


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 fiscal standing. The 2008-2009 year marked the eighth consecutive year of a balanced budget.


Since 1973, when she joined the WWU faculty, Barnett 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.


William Woods University’s master of business administration program was ranked in the top five this year of Top MBA Programs in Missouri and Kansas, according to Ingram’s, Kansas City’s business magazine.


This award marks the second major recognition in the past year that Barnett has received from her alma maters. Last spring she was recognized by The University of Mississippi as the School of Education Alumnus of the Year.


Barnett earned a bachelor of science degree in business from Arkansas State University at age 19. By age 24, she had earned two graduate degrees from The University of Mississippi—a master of business education degree and a Ph.D. in higher education and student personnel services.


Based on her position and commitment to William Woods University, Barnett is a rarity in higher education. She is William Woods University’s only woman president in its nearly 140-year history. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, only 8 percent of college presidents have held the position for 16-20 years, and only 23 percent of colleges and universities have a female president.   


Barnett’s recent recognition follows a strong history of accomplishment, including the Inaugural First Lady in Education Award for the State of Missouri in 2008, “National Chief Executive Leadership Award” from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) in 2000 and “Arkansas State University Distinguished Alumnus” in 1995.


She has also been honored as “Arkansas State University Outstanding Business Alumni,” Mid-Missouri Magazine‘s “Twenty Most Influential Women in Mid-Missouri” and “Woman of Achievement,” selected by the National Alpha Omicron Pi Foundation.




Dr. Jahnae H. Barnett, president of William Woods University