Director of Athletics, Otterbein University
"I joined the PCA Cleveland Advisory board simply because I believe in the "power of positive" philosophy! Athletics is a transformational experience that can dramatically impact a young person. It is a tool that can be used to build their self-confidence and leadership skills and allow them to become more self-aware. Surrounding our young athletes with positive coaches and influencers will empower them to reach their goals."
Dawn Stewart enters her seventh year as director of athletics at her alma mater. A 1998 graduate, she was hired on April 9, 2012 after Otterbein conducted a national search that netted over 100 applicants vying for the position.
Stewart, coming to Otterbein after spending four years in the same position at nearby Capital University, holds 20-plus years of experience within intercollegiate athletics at the NCAA Division I and III levels as an athletics administrator and former student-athlete.
“As a coach or administrator you naturally wonder what it might be like to return to your alma mater,” Stewart said. “Otterbein has always held a special place in my heart. It was a place that provided me with a successful athletic experience and strong professional foundation. It's been so exciting to return and start giving back to a place that has given me so much.”
In 2016, Stewart was named one of four Under Armour AD of the Year winners within Division III by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA). She was one of 28 AD's across the nation to be selected and one of just six females on the list.
She has completed many initiatives since arriving to Otterbein, most notably spearheading the $2 million Turf and Track project in Memorial Stadium, which was completed in late August of 2014. Other projects under Stewart’s lead have been the implementation of the Otterbein Athletics Corporate Partnership Programs (which now has 19 sponsors), establishing naming rights and improvements to nearly all on-campus athletic facilities, and securing a $350,000 equipment gift in kind from NBA head coach George Karl, which allowed for improvements to practice space.
In addition, she launched the Roush Hall of Champions interactive display, highlighting standout individuals and teams throughout the history of Cardinal athletics through a background mural and touch-screen televisions.
Stewart has remained active within her profession, joining the NACDA Executive Committee in the fall of 2014 and completing a term that ran through June 2018. She has been a member of the Collegiate Event and Facility Management Association (CEFMA) board for four years and was then elected president in 2013. CEFMA is dedicated to the needs of collegiate level event and facility professionals and the challenges that exist within the scope of their responsibilities.
Stewart began her professional career at Otterbein, in 1998, by serving as recruiting coordinator and assistant women’s tennis coach before transitioning to the University of Dayton in 2000. At Dayton, Stewart worked from the ground up, first serving as director of ticketing services before being promoted to assistant director of athletics for business and communications in 2002. In 2007, she was named senior woman administrator, and in addition to continuing to manage a $17 million budget and athletics communication, was placed in charge of the office of athletics academic affairs.
Stewart was hired into her athletic director role at Capital in 2008 where she managed 18 varsity sports, along with 50 full- and part-time coaches and administrative personnel.
“I have been blessed with wonderful career opportunities at both the Division I and III levels,” Stewart said. “Each of these opportunities has provided similar perspectives in that the student-athlete experience should come first. No matter the division or the amount of resources an athletics program might have, the student-athletes should always remain the primary focus.”
Stewart received her bachelor’s degree in business administration from Otterbein in 1998. She holds a master’s degree in sport management from The Ohio State University and is working on her doctorate in sport management at Ohio State.
A native of New Philadelphia, Ohio, Stewart and her husband, Steve, a 1998 graduate of Otterbein, live together in Galena with their young son, Jack.