Best Academic Dean – Jamie Byrne
The people have spoken; and the individual they have chosen as UALR’s best academic college dean is a woman whose presence is synonymous with the media.
Jamie Byrne has served as interim dean for the college of professional studies since July, but her ties to the college are much deeper. Before assuming the position of associate dean in July 2011, Byrne had worked as director of the college’s School of Mass Communication for nearly ten years. She says that her colleagues have been like a second family and describes the college as one of great synergy.
“The thing about the College of Professional Studies that brings it together is the service aspect,” Byrne said. “It’s about trying to make a difference. It doesn’t matter if it is criminal justice, social work, mass comm, speech comm or any of our schools in the college — they are all about trying to make a difference in the world.”
Byrne said the path her career in higher education has taken is one of natural progression. She does not, however, intend on becoming the college’s permanent dean.
“I’m just taking things one day at a time,” she said.
After a permanent dean is selected, Byrne plans to return to the position of associate dean. She attributes this decision to her love of teaching and concern that becoming full-time dean would distance her from it.
“I’ve always defined myself as a teacher and always been student-oriented, in that I’ve been teaching for 25 years,” she said. “The further you go up in administration, the less teaching you do. I would never not want to teach, because you get too far away from the students that we are here to serve.”
Along with her administrative duties, she currently teaches a course called Mass Media Research.
When Byrne is not operating in her official administrative capacity, she enjoys expanding her extensive Barbie collection and spending time with her four cats: Angel, Bella, Punky and Buddy.