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Valparaiso University introduces Dr. Charles Small as new Athletic Director

Nick Poulos
By: Nick Poulos Last Updated: May 19, 2022

It was a big day for Valparaiso University, the community of Valparaiso, and Northwest Indiana as a whole. Today Valparaiso University introduced its third athletic director in the last 43 years. Dr. Charles Small will be stepping into an important role as he hopes to guide the university’s athletic program in the right direction as the school's 16th athletic director.


Small is coming from Iowa State University where he served as the senior sssociate athletic director of student services. He also is joining the University with 20 years of experience in higher education pertaining to athletics. Before all of that, Small was a walk on the University of Pittsburgh’s basketball team.


President of Valparaiso University, Dr. José Padilla, shared why he hired Small for this big role.


“First and foremost,” stated Padilla. “Students and student-athletes are first and foremost on his mind. Their care, nurturing, and development regardless of whether they start or ride the bench, their welfare, and their development, is first and foremost.”


Small has played sports since he was a kid and credits them with helping shape who he is today.


“I’ve learned so many life lessons through sports,” explained Small. “Basketball, or any other sports, is bigger than me. I have an emotional connection with athletics.”


Small recognizes all of his colleagues at Iowa State University, and others in the industry, for helping him develop his leadership approach.


“My leadership approach is stewardship, strategy, and success,” said Small. “Leaving the institution better than how you found it, being a great steward in the community. We have the responsibility to be stewards of the great resources that the university provides. When we talk about vision, alignment, and execution, it’s a sum of having clear priorities and goals. These are life lessons I've learned from people in our industry.”


One of the big questions facing Small was-- why Valpo? Small believes that this university is special. The culture and values represented at Valparaiso are what attracted him here. Small grew up in a family of social workers. His mother, father, and aunt all worked in social work and it drove him to pursue a bachelor's and master's in the subject.


“I think first and foremost is the alignment of values at Valparaiso University,” Small explained. “I have a bachelor's and master's degree in social work. When I think about the professional values, the service, dignity, work with another person, and the importance of human relationships, those values really align with Valpo’s focus on helping to develop and foster leaders for the future.”


Small is looking forward to building on the accomplishments of Valparaiso University and bringing in an area of athletic and academic success for student-athletes.


“I am confident that the best is yet to come,” exclaimed Small. “I am looking forward to partnering with the Valpo community, the people in our athletics department, and President Padilla to help write that next chapter. To our current student-athletes, we’re going to help you grow, we’re going to help you flourish. We’re going to provide the resources for you to be successful.”
Small understands that for him to deliver on his promises, he’ll need the support of the community. He issued a charge to the community, he believes if we all work together, Valpo and NWI will flourish.


“To the Valparaiso University community and alumni,” started Small. “We need to demonstrate champion level synergy. The whole is greater than the sum of the partners, synergy will help the businesses in Northwest Indiana excel. Synergy will help Valparaiso University excel in teaching and research. Synergy will help Valparaiso win championships.”


Small is a family man and values his time with his family. Small thanks his wife for always being there for him, and for helping shape him into the man he is today. Small’s wife Celeste and two young boys were in attendance for today’s announcement event.


GreatNewsLife CEO Chris Mahlman asked Small about the significance of family and what Small wants his children to see in this athletics program.
“I believe in work-life integration,” answered Small. “So my kids are around sporting events, and those student-athletes are great role models. They [student-athletes] have a balance, and the ability to deal with adversity. I want them to be ingrained in this culture.”

Valpo Athletics Announces New Athletic Director 2022

Valpo Athletics Announces New Athletic Director 2022 34 Photos
Valpo Athletics Announces New Athletic Director 2022Valpo Athletics Announces New Athletic Director 2022Valpo Athletics Announces New Athletic Director 2022Valpo Athletics Announces New Athletic Director 2022