In this special series for Women’s History Month, UA Little Rock is profiling women leaders who are making a difference at the university. As UA Little Rock’s provost and vice chancellor of academic affairs, Dr. Ann Bain serves as the university’s second in command.
Q. Tell me about yourself.
I attended the University of Central Arkansas as an undergraduate and completed a nursing program there called Career Options in Nursing Education (CONE). I went into clinical practice after I graduated and did a lot of work in pediatric and adult surgical nursing. Then, I took the opportunity to take a teaching position at Baptist Health College and then went back to UCA and got my master’s degree in nursing.
I came to UA Little Rock in 1983 and taught in the associate degree RN program, had my second child, and came back in 1987. I decided in 1996 that I needed to look at what my next career step was. I went into the EdD in Higher Education program here and completed that program in 1997.
The same year I completed my doctoral degree, I was asked to serve as the chairperson of the Department of Nursing. At that time, we were a very small associate degree program that accepted 6o students every fall. We hadn’t done a lot of innovative changes, but I had a dynamic faculty who was willing to come to the table. We started the LPN-to-RN track and the paramedic-to-RN track and began to maximize the use of summer sessions.
Eventually, one of our main partners at St. Vincent talked about the need for a RN-to-BSN program. The rest is history. We have more than 800 nursing majors. We evolved from a very small unit to a very large unit. I was asked in 2013 if I could serve as the interim dean of the College of Science since we were undergoing restructuring. When the position came available for the College of Health Education and Professions, I applied for the position and was selected for that position. I was asked to serve as provost in October 2019.
Q. How did you arrive at UA Little Rock?
I was actually recruited by one of the nursing faculty to apply for a faculty position. I’m a native Little Rock person.
Q. What does UA Little Rock mean to you?
UA Little Rock is my home. I don’t think I ever expected to stay as long as I have. I’ve had the opportunity to work with many great people. I’ve been given the opportunity to expand our nursing program and to secure a dedicated, totally redesigned building for nursing. I know firsthand the difference UA Little Rock can make in people’s lives. This institution is invaluable, and I am thankful that it has been my professional home.
Q. What is your current position at UA Little Rock? What are your duties?
The provost has oversight of the academic side of the house. This involves everything from tenure and promotion reviews, academic planning, strategic planning, and budget oversight. It’s really a very comprehensive oversight of all academic units. The associate vice chancellors, college deans, and other members of the deans’ council report directly to the provost. The provost is a direct report to the chancellor and is a member of the chancellor’s cabinet. It’s a very complex and busy job.
Q. How would you describe your leadership style?
I am a very upfront person. I like to be direct with people. I also value collaboration and the voice of others. I believe you can make better decisions if you are open to new ideas and new ways of thinking. It’s important that you have a team approach to leadership, and that you value the input you get from everyone. I would hope that people I have worked with over the years would tell you that I was supportive of their role and their vision of their future. I have had the opportunity to work with wonderful people, who have become lifelong friends and colleagues.
Q. What woman has inspired you the most and why?
I would say, my mother, which, to some, may be an ironic person to name because she did not have the opportunity to complete college and did not have a professional career. Because of the era in which she grew up, she was not allowed the opportunity to go to college, but she helped my brothers and I realize the value of a college education. She encouraged us all to succeed and to maximize the educational and professional opportunities that were given to us. She is the woman I admire the most in my life, and I believe that my brothers and I owe our successes to her.
I have also had the opportunity to work with some phenomenal women leaders over the years. I am very fortunate right now to work with Dr. Christy Drale and other strong women leaders on this campus. They are inspirational and they make me thankful to be a part of a team that will make a difference in the future of this institution. Throughout my career, there have been a variety of women who I’ve interfaced with and, cumulatively, they have made me a better person, a better colleague, and a better leader.
Q. What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
I would tell them that they need to always keep their creative side and their ability to think of new ways of doing things. They should never get complacent with the way things are. It’s important to be a change agent for good. You should always look to the future. Never lose the human factor that is involved in working with others. You should continue to value each and very person that you work with. You have to work hard, and you have to put a lot of hours in – but you can make a difference.
Q. Name something about yourself that most people would be surprised to learn.
I enjoy creating art, especially with watercolors or pastels. My friends and family know this about me, but others may not. I’m a constant designer of space, so I always have a project and I always have something I enjoy doing. I don’t sit still. My husband told me he’s afraid to leave me at home alone because I might start a house addition. I am, for the first time, going to plant a garden with my brother at Two Rivers Park. I expect the garden to be an adventure! I am also an awesome grandmother. I have that on the authority of my seven grandchildren who range in ages from 2 years to 14 years!
Q. What’s one leadership lesson you’ve learned in your career?
I would say that the most important lesson is to take advantage of the opportunities that you are given and to be alert to those opportunities. Those opportunities enable you to really feel that you can accomplish something and to make a difference. I’m not talking about opportunities for personal advancement. I’m talking about opportunities to make positive changes that enable the growth of our institution and our community.
Q. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I’ve always been fortunate in my life to have wonderful female friends and women in my life. I have retained friends from elementary school, high school, and college and the years following. I still keep up with some of my colleagues who’ve retired from UA Little Rock. It’s been a gift that these wonderful women have intersected with my life and remained a part of my life for all these years. I can’t wait to see what my granddaughters do in the future. From what I can tell, they will do great and glorious things!