Jane Wayland: Training the Future

Jane Wayland is the first female dean of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s College of Business.

Wayland grew up in Ellisville, Miss. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in marketing from the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg.

After school, she moved to Texas, where she began working in sales. After a friend suggested teaching, Wayland tried out the profession first at Houston Baptist University.

“I enjoyed teaching,” Wayland said. “At Houston Baptist, I taught about four classes every quarter, and I really enjoyed it. I embraced that.”

After a year, Wayland said she realized she would need a doctorate to further her career. She earned one from the University of North Texas in Denton, and then her career took her from Texas to Virginia to Illinois.

At Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Wayland got more practical business experience at the local Chamber of Commerce.

“We did a lot just to keep the doors open,” she said. “We worked to serve our members and to gain members.”

She noticed that increased or decreased enrollment at EIU would have drastic effects on the town’s businesses.

“One trend that was happening during the time I was there was that the faculty was living outside of the town,” she said. “They were driving in from larger cities like Champaign or Terre Haute, and because they were not in the city, it took economic impact from those individuals in the city.”

After 16 years at EIU, Wayland had worked up to chair its school of business. Then, she saw an ad for associate dean at UALR.

She got the job. Five years later, she was named dean. Since then, she’s moved from teaching to almost entirely administrative duties. She is also on the board of the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas and is involved with Sales & Marketing Executives International and Economics Arkansas, among other groups.

Strengths and Weaknesses

As dean, Wayland is in charge of the whole college of business, including its Arkansas Small Business & Technology Development Center and Institute for Economic Advancement divisions. The college has seven undergraduate degrees and four post-baccalaureate certificate programs.

She also maintains the college’s accreditation with the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

“We do a lot of programming. A lot of what we do is development work,” she said, using the academic euphemism for fundraising. “I’m supposed to be outside of the college meeting people. I serve on several boards. It is a lot of work. I have very much a team leadership approach. There are two associate deans and we work together.”

She said UALR’s business school’s strengths included its focus on students and its faculty who maintain skill in external fields. She said the college is good at addressing individual student needs.

One challenge, she said, is keeping that individual focus in an increasingly online environment. “I think it can be done,” she said.

She is also helping faculty integrate online courses with traditional ones. “The online environment is expanding,” she said.

“We have to adapt quality teaching to that. We’re committed to quality teaching online.”

She said another challenge increasing the number of Arkansans with undergraduate degrees.

“The state has a low number of people who have a B.S. degree,” she said. “There’s a lot of work for us to do. We have to determine what the skills are that employers want, and we must educate students for those skills. Not just specific skills like accounting rules, but they have to be able to critically think and communicate and have a broad background in liberal arts.”

Professors also need to change, she said, to be ready to help students at almost any hour.

“We provide tools when students need it,” she said. “Maybe it’s 10 at night, or 5 in the morning; learning is almost 24/7. I think that presents a challenge to faculty.”

Finally, Wayland also has to deal with funding issues.

“We’re fortunate that we have very good donors,” she said. “But we’re still looking for money. All deans all over the country, a lot of their jobs changed from scholarship to development. That’s a huge change that’s taken place for years. I don’t know of any dean that doesn’t do development.”

She said her position as the first female business dean at UALR is revolutionary. “I think that women make good leaders,” she said. “I think they need to seek that opportunity and do the things that make it work. I had an opportunity here, and I’m very grateful for that opportunity. I really enjoy my work here at the college.”

Twenty years ago, she said, attaining her position wouldn’t have been likely, but even now women still have to work hard to gain leadership ground.

“I still contend that women don’t have that opportunity if they don’t get educated,” she said. “They have to pursue it and look for it. It’s not going to fall in their lap.”

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