In Valparaiso, Valparaiso University President Jose Padilla on Thursday announced Dr. Charles Small has been named the next Director of Athletics. 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. Prior to arriving at Iowa State, Small worked for four years at the University of Arkansas and has also worked at the University of New Orleans and started his work in intercollegiate athletics at his alma mater, the University of Pittsburgh. 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. He will take over for Mark LaBarbera, who announced earlier this year his retirement effective at end of the academic year, June 30th.
“Student-athletes are first and foremost in his mind,” said Padilla. “Regardless of whether they start or come off the bench, their development and welfare is his top priority. This man is a great colleague. He’s also an academic, a man of faith and a family man who will fit well at Valparaiso. He came highly recommended by one of the deans of athletic directors across the country, Jamie Pollard at Iowa State University.”
Pollard and several representatives from the Iowa State Athletics senior staff were in attendance for Thursday’s introduction. The event, which was emceed by longtime public address announcer John Bowker, also featured former Valpo Director of Athletics Dr. Bill Steinbrecher and current Director of Athletics Mark LaBarbera. Representatives from the City of Valparaiso including Mayor Matt Murphy and Director of Development George Douglas were also on hand to help welcome Small. Other dignitaries in the audience included Missouri Valley Conference Commissioner Jeff Jackson, Valpo Athletics Hall of Famer Carolyn Femovich of the Valpo Board of Directors and search committee chair Darron Farha.
“My family has given me a strong foundation in terms of my core values,” Small said. “When I think about love, empowerment, achievement and integrity, I try to live that out every day. The lessons I’ve learned throughout my career have really impacted my leadership approach. That approach is stewardship, strategy and success. Our strategy is about vision, alignment and execution. We will have clear priorities and goals. That is my leadership approach, and those are life lessons I’ve learned from great people in our industry.”