Dr. Neil D. Theobald was selected by the Temple University Board of Trustees to be the university’s 10th president in August 2012. He immediately began work with Interim President Richard Englert on a transition plan and officially took office as Temple’s president on Jan. 1, 2013.
In his first 100 days, he made a series of important appointments. Theobald named former College of Science and Technology Dean Hai-Lung Dai as provost; selected Karen Clarke as the university’s first vice president for strategic marketing and communications; and appointed Joseph Lucia as dean of libraries. Since then, he also has appointed Gregory M. Anderson as dean of the College of Education, Michael L. Klein as dean of the College of Science and Technology, and David Boardman as dean of the School of Media and Communication.
By fall 2013, Temple University had surpassed milestones in three vital areas. The freshman class was the largest in five years and had the best SAT scores in Temple’s history; the university beat its previous fundraising record while almost doubling the amount of money raised for student scholarship; and in a year of declining national research funding, Temple experienced a double-digit increase in research awards.
Theobald came to Temple after a successful career at Indiana University, where he was named senior vice president in 2007. Previously, he had served as senior vice provost at the university’s flagship campus in Bloomington and as special assistant to IU’s president.
In addition to his duties as president at Temple, Theobald holds a professorship in education finance and is teaching a class on organizational change for 25 freshman students. The unique course is designed to build a core of Temple campus leaders. His research interests in the appropriate role of decentralization in educational financing and in modeling educational labor markets are reflected in more than $1.5 million in funded research, numerous books and book chapters, dozens of articles published in professional journals and nearly 50 policy reports for various state governments. At IU, Theobald directed a research center that helped states create education funding processes that equitably facilitated academic excellence. Theobald was a three-time winner of IU's Teaching Excellence Recognition Award.
Theobald is a past president of the American Education Finance Association, winning its Jean Flanigan Award. In 1995, the University Council for Educational Administration presented Theobald with the Jack A. Culbertson Award. In 2003, Theobald was presented the Distinguished Graduate Award by the College of Education at the University of Washington.
A native of Peoria, Illinois, Theobald had planned to enter an electrician’s apprenticeship after high school. However, donors to Trinity College in Connecticut made it possible for him to pursue higher education, and Theobald earned a bachelor’s degree there in 1978. After a short period in the corporate world, Theobald began his education career as a secondary school mathematics teacher in the state of Washington, where he also coached baseball. He subsequently served as both an assistant professor and an associate professor at the University of Washington, where he earned a doctoral degree in educational finance in 1988.
Dr. Theobald and his wife, Sheona Mackenzie, have three adult children: Roddy, Kinnear and Mattie.