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Reflections From Year One In The Chair With Valparaiso’s Charles Small & Lindenwood’s Jason Coomer

Guest Charles Small, Valparaiso; Jason Coomer, Lindenwood
26:29 min watch


Valparaiso Director of Athletics Dr. Charles Small and Lindenwood Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Jason Coomer join ADU’s Tai M. Brown at the 2023 NACDA Convention to reflect on Year One in the Big Chair. Small and Coomer, both first-time ADs, share insight into navigating expected and unexpected challenges, establishing key relationships on campus – including with the president’s senior leadership team – and adapting to new expectations as the department-wide leader. Small shares his leadership mantras of “build, measure, learn” and “stewardship, strategy and success” while Coomer quotes retired U.S. Army General Martin Dempsey regarding change, saying: “If you don’t like change, you’re going to hate being irrelevant even more.”

The conversation is indexed below for efficient viewing (click the time stamp to jump to a specific question/topic).

  • - Is being a new AD akin to jumping onto a moving train? If so, what were some of the initial steps you had to take to get control of this new leadership position?
  • - What's been your experience Jason?
  • - When you arrived at Valparaiso, how much of the department's challenges were you prepared for? How much was shared with you during the interview process?
  • - Jason, what were you prepared for when you took the job?
  • - Did you have a situation where it paid off to be patient rather than respond with a kneejerk reaction? 
  • - We are the culmination of our experiences; is there a mentor or a program that you found yourself thinking back to as you went through your first year as an AD?
  • - How important is adaptability as a quality for ADs?
  • - How do you establish relationships on campus, especially relationships that will be key to future collaborative efforts?
  • - What have you learned about yourself as you embarked on this leadership role on campus?
  • - How did it feel to realize "I can handle this" for the first time as an AD?
  • - What about you Charles?
  • - What professional development programs have been the most beneficial for you?
  • - Our mission is to leave your department better than you found it; how do you incorporate that perspective into your mindset as a leader?