“The outstanding college education I received has carried me every day since. More importantly, it put my children on paths to pursue their dreams. That is the impact of a college education."
Neil D. Theobald is like many Temple Owls. Born to working-class parents, he was the first in his family to attend college and could only afford his education because of a scholarship funded by philanthropic donors.
Today Theobald is succinct in stating his goals for Temple: making Temple a model of affordable, accessible excellence in higher education and helping Philadelphia emerge as a force in the global economy.
Since Theobald became Temple’s 10th president on Jan. 1, 2013, he has powered the university to several milestones:
- the most academically qualified and diverse new students in Temple history
- Temple’s highest-ever ranking in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges (no. 121 among national universities)
- a double-digit increase in research awards to $230 million
- record-breaking philanthropic support two years in a row
Under Theobald’s leadership, Temple has emerged as an innovative leader in public higher education. His initiatives include
- hiring more than 110 tenure and tenure-track faculty members, a new provost, six new deans and four new vice presidents.
- introducing a decentralized budget model to cut costs and improve efficiency.
- launching Visualize Temple, a comprehensive campus plan that will transform the university.
Theobald’s signature efforts include Fly in 4, a partnership to help students take charge of their futures and limit their debt. Theobald also outlined six commitments that will energize the university.
Before arriving at Temple, Theobald had a successful career as an administrator and faculty member at Indiana University, where he became senior vice president in 2007. He also directed a research center that assisted five state governments in designing K–12 funding systems.
Theobald’s research interests in educational financing and modeling educational labor markets have led to more than $1.5 million in funded research, as well as many published articles, books and reports. He has been featured on NPR and Bloomberg News and in The Chronicle of Higher Education and other major media outlets.
Impact of a College Education
A native of Peoria, Illinois, Theobald planned to enter an electrician’s apprenticeship after high school. But donors to Trinity College in Connecticut made it possible for him to pursue higher education. He earned a bachelor’s degree in 1978 and a doctoral degree from the University of Washington in 1988.
Theobald and his wife, Sheona Mackenzie, have three adult children: Roddy, Kinnear and Mattie.