Dr. Charles Small Named Valparaiso University Director of Athletics
May 19, 2022 – Valparaiso, Indiana – A dynamic rising star in collegiate athletics administration with a focus on the holistic student-athlete experience, Charles Small, Ed.D., is the next Director of Athletics at Valparaiso University, as announced by University President José D. Padilla, J.D., on Thursday, May 19, 2022. Small, who will officially assume the role on July 1 and will be Valpo’s first Black Director of Athletics, most recently spent the last four years on the athletic department’s senior staff at Iowa State University.
“I'm thrilled to welcome Dr. Charles Small to Valparaiso University,” Padilla said. “He will be a great asset to Valpo Athletics programs, our student-athletes and the larger Valpo community. His experience in Division I basketball and at the many levels of administration in collegiate athletic programs makes him a perfect fit for the Athletic Director position. Charles is a man of faith who brings a great deal of knowledge and energy to Valpo Athletics. He comes with the strong endorsement of Jamie Pollard, Iowa State’s AD and one of the deans of athletic directors nationwide. I look forward to seeing Valpo thrive under Charles’ leadership.”
Through the search process, Valpo was focused on finding a Director of Athletics who would lead the Beacons to the next level on the playing field while embracing the University’s faith-based mission and tradition of academic excellence. The next Director of Athletics will lead a department that prepares student-athletes to lead and serve through exceptional experiences in athletics, doing so while maintaining the department’s core values of student well-being, character & integrity, stewardship and respect.
It became clear that Small is an ideal fit to lead Valpo Athletics. Through his total commitment to the student-athlete experience — an experience he enjoyed firsthand as a Division I men’s basketball player at the University of Pittsburgh — Small’s work in intercollegiate athletics has unfailingly enabled student-athletes to reach their full potential — in competition, in academics, in service and in career attainment.
“I am honored to be named Director of Athletics at Valparaiso University,” Small said. “This is a tremendous opportunity to join President Padilla’s leadership team and work for a proven leader with a longstanding career in higher education and a leader with a history of remarkable impact in a range of professional settings. Valparaiso University’s legacy of preparing students to lead and serve in both church and society aligns with my core values. I look forward to embarking on a journey with our coaches and administrators to make a concerted effort to help Valpo student-athletes flourish holistically and promote synergy among the Valpo stakeholders to achieve comprehensive excellence.”
Small joins Valpo from Iowa State University, where he has spent the last four years (2018–present) as Senior Associate Athletic Director for Student Services. In his role at Iowa State, he is the lead administrator for sports medicine, compliance, strength & conditioning, former student-athlete relations and academic support services for student-athletes. Small serves as sport administrator for the Cyclones’ men’s basketball and wrestling programs.
A key member of the Iowa State athletics senior staff, Small headed up the department’s diversity, equity and inclusion strategic action plan, experience that will serve him well as he implements steps in Valparaiso University’s DEI Action Agenda that relate to Valpo Athletics. During his time with the Cyclones, he created a student-athlete and letterwinner engagement unit, as well as a position for a mental health and educational enrichment coordinator.
Small’s dedication to building campus partnerships was highlighted when Iowa State University President Dr. Wendy Wintersteen appointed him as the University’s Interim Vice President for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion for the fall 2021 semester. He is also a Deputy Title IX Coordinator and represented the athletic department on the ISU Well-being Leadership Alliance.
Prior to arriving at Iowa State, Small worked for four years (2014–2018) at the University of Arkansas. He ended his tenure with the Razorbacks as the department’s Associate Athletic Director for Academic Services, where he served as lead administrator for academic support services for student-athletes and as a member of the athletic department’s executive staff. He also worked as a Deputy Title IX Coordinator on campus.
Small originally joined the staff at Arkansas as Director of Student-Athlete Development. He was a member of the Office of Student-Athlete Success (OSAS) leadership team, overseeing the day-to-day operations of the student-athlete development program and serving as advisor for the Razorbacks’ Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. He represented the athletic department on the RazorCAT team, collaborating with units in the Division of Student Affairs to discuss student issues and wellness concerns. He was promoted to Assistant Athletic Director in 2016 before earning his promotion to Associate Athletic Director in 2017.
Prior to his tenure at Arkansas, Small worked at the University of New Orleans (2013–2014) as Assistant Athletic Director for Student-Athlete Enrichment. While at New Orleans, he oversaw academic support and life skills programming, was the sport administrator for men’s and women’s track & field and was the lead administrator assisting the athletic director in developing a strategic plan.
Small started his work in intercollegiate athletics at his alma mater, the University of Pittsburgh. He ascended to Academic Counselor for Football and Women’s Track & Field (2010–2013) after spending time as Assistant Director of Life Skills (2007–2010) and as a Graduate Assistant for Student Life and Compliance (2006–2007).
In addition to his athletics work, Small has served as an adjunct faculty member in the School of Social Work at both Pitt and Arkansas. He is currently a member of the National Association of Academic Advisors for Athletics (N4A) and the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA), and he is a graduate of the NCAA Dr. Charles Whitcomb Leadership Institute and the Sports Management Institute.
Small also worked with two nonprofit organizations in Ames, Iowa. He was a member of the foundation board of trustees for Youth and Shelter Services (YSS) and a member of the board of directors for the Assault Care Center Extending Shelter & Support (ACCESS).
Small earned his Doctor of Education from the University of Pittsburgh in 2013 after previously receiving his Master of Social Work (2007) and his Bachelor of Arts in Social Work (2006) from Pitt. As an undergraduate at Pitt, Small was a four-year member of the men’s basketball program, earning three letters. He was part of teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament four times, including two appearances in the Sweet Sixteen, and won a pair of Big East championships.
Small is the 16th Director of Athletics all-time at Valparaiso University and just the third person to fill that role in the last 43 years. A native of Detroit, Small and his wife, Celeste, have two sons, Dominic and Aiden.