Colette Irwin-Knott portrait

Effective Sept. 1, 2020, Colette Irwin-Knott ’81, a member of Valparaiso University’s Board of Directors since 2009, will serve as Valpo’s Interim President-Elect. This follows the August 2019 announcement that Mark A. Heckler, Ph.D., recommended to the Board of Directors that it begin the search process to identify the next President of Valparaiso University.

Heckler assumed his position as the University’s 18th president in 2008 and has led the University during a time of important financial decisions, the University’s response to date related to the COVID-19 pandemic and preparations to resume on-campus instruction for the fall 2020 semester.

Heckler will transition leadership responsibilities to Irwin-Knott during the month of September, then will become President Emeritus. In this role, he will continue active fundraising efforts for Forever Valpo: The Campaign for Our Future, a $250 million endowment campaign focused on raising permanent support for students, faculty and programs to prepare all students for lives of leadership, service and generosity.

Irwin-Knott graduated from Valparaiso University with a bachelor of science in 1981. She spent her career in the field of public finance with HJUmbaugh & Associates in Indianapolis, Indiana, retiring as a partner in the firm in 2014. She worked closely with educators throughout Indiana on hundreds of school and library projects involving the issuance of municipal bonds. She has been an instrumental leader at local, state and national levels of public finance and has represented independent financial advisors at the federal level as regulations were developed for this industry.

“Ms. Irwin-Knott’s heart for service and financial acumen will serve Valparaiso University well as it continues to face the global pandemic and focuses on the health and well-being of students, faculty and staff while fulfilling our academic mission,” said Frederick G. Kraegel ’70, Board of Directors Chair. “On behalf of the entire Board of Directors of Valparaiso University, we sincerely appreciate her willingness to lead the University during this important time.”

While at Umbaugh, Irwin-Knott began a women’s initiative for career development, and she has mentored numerous young women and men in their respective professions. She has been active in ministries assisting inner-city teenage youth in Indianapolis. Her interests have also included the arts and serving on the Board of the Indianapolis Public Library Foundation. Among her many professional and charitable activities, the Indianapolis Business Journal recognized her as a “Woman in the Lead for Financial Services.”

Visit for more information about the search for Valparaiso University’s next president.