Theobald came to IU in 1993 as an associate professor of educational finance in the School of Education. He has served as chief financial officer since July 2007 and was appointed senior vice president in October 2011.
His ultimate goal has been to reduce student debt — what he considers the biggest challenge facing students.
To do so, he has led fundraising drives to increase financial aid and launched the new Office of Financial Literacy. Additionally, he has attempted to reduce the cost of a degree.
“Over the last two years, we have basically fixed tuition,” Theobald told the Board of Trustees on Dec. 7.
Now it’s up to his successor to continue his efforts. Effective Jan. 1, 2013, Theobald will become the 10th president of Temple University in Philadelphia.
The Indiana Daily Student spoke with Theobald about his time at IU and what’s in store for his future.
IDS What is your favorite memory of your time at IU?
Neil Theobald You can’t take the people with you, and that’s what I’m going to miss the most. They have made my job really easy, and I’ve never had a problem. The people are just fantastic. My favorite memory goes back to teaching. Some of my former students are now at Temple. The ability to work with people as they are younger has been a great fortune, and then to see them grow into success.
IDS What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment?
Theobald There are three, actually. I directed the capital campaign, which raised $1.1 billion. That contributed to financial aid for undergraduates and really improved the mean SAT score. It was 1096, and it’s now 1204, a dramatic change to recruit top students. Additionally, IU has maintained an AAA bond rating in the midst of the financial situation in this country.
IDS What was your biggest challenge at IU?
Theobald IU went through a period of instability. Fortunately, we now have an excellent president who has proved his commitment to the University. But for a very long time, there was a trend of turnover and change.
IDS How will you remember IU?
Theobald As a community of very welcoming people, very talented people. I can’t overstate the beauty of this community. There’s nothing I enjoy more. I raised my children here. IU will always be our home. I am so thankful to have been here, so very thankful. I will always think fondly of IU, a truly great university.
IDS What are you most excited about at Temple?
Theobald Temple is a very significant part of the city of Philadelphia. It’s one of three large Pennsylvanian universities, like IU in Indiana, but there’s a major difference. At IU there is a split mission between the Indy, Bloomington and regional campuses, but at Temple there’s just one campus. I’m excited to work with the crown jewel of Temple and the city, the medical school.
IDS What do you consider to be the biggest issue facing IU?
Theobald The level of student debt that we are currently incurring is absolutely the biggest problem. It is limiting the capacity of our graduating students to be independent and successful. I think the financial literacy initiative is very important, and also limiting tuition increases and maintaining academic excellence.
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