Entrance Torch 2

Interim President Colette Irwin-Knott


From Sept. 1, 2020 to Feb. 28, 2021, Colette Irwin-Knott ’81 B.S. assumed the role of Interim President of Valparaiso University, founded in 1859. Interim President Irwin-Knott is a dedicated servant leader with more than 30 years of experience in public finance.

Since 2009, Interim President Irwin-Knott has served as a member of the Valparaiso University Board of Directors. She sat on the Executive Committee of the Board, chaired its Finance and Administration Committee, participated in the Campus Life and Presidential Search Committees, and served on several AdHoc committees. She is also a member of the University Guild.

Previously, Interim President Irwin-Knott spent her career in the field of public finance with HJ Umbaugh & Associates in Indianapolis, retiring as a partner of 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. While at Umbaugh, she began a women’s initiative for career development, and she has mentored numerous young women and men in their respective professions. Interim President Irwin-Knott has also been involved with Women in Public Finance in Indiana and served as president of the National Association of Independent Public Finance Advisors.

Guided by her faith, Interim President Irwin-Knott has a heart for service and has been active in ministries assisting inner-city teenage youth in Indianapolis. Her interests have also included the arts and serving on the Boards of the Indianapolis Public Library Foundation and The New Harmony Project. Among her many professional and charitable activities, the Indianapolis Business Journal recognized her as a “Woman in the Lead for Financial Services.”

Interim President Irwin-Knott earned her bachelor’s in business administration from Valparaiso University. During her time as a student, she was a member and president of Phi Beta Chi. She studied abroad in Cambridge, England, for a semester and was part of C-26.

Interim President Irwin-Knott grew up in Argos, Indiana, less than an hour from the University. Although she was a first-generation student, she had a pair of familial connections to Valpo that first led to her strong affinity for the University. Her uncle, Donald V. Fites, graduated in 1956 and is the namesake for the University’s Engineering Innovation Center, dedicated in 2011. Her aunt, Margaretta Tangerman served as the dean of women and retired as a professor emerita of social work in 1972.

While Interim President Irwin-Knott and her husband, Gary Knott, are joining the Valpo community, they have lived in Zionsville, Indiana. They are the parents of two adult sons, Aaron and Stefan, and attend Zionsville Presbyterian Church.