WWU president named Woman of Achievement

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
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