LARAMIE — University of Wyoming Vice President for Finance and Administration Neil Theobald has been chosen to serve as the university’s acting president.
During a special teleconference meeting today (Monday), the UW Board of Trustees unanimously selected Theobald from among three finalists who were interviewed in person by the full board last week. The terms of his appointment are still being finalized, but it will be a one-year contract with an annual salary of $340,000, along with provision of a UW vehicle for his use. He will take office July 1, following the completion of current President Laurie Nichols’ contract.
“We are confident Neil will provide strong leadership to continue moving the university forward and lay the groundwork for a long-term president,” board Chairman Dave True says. “We appreciate his willingness and that of the other candidates to take on this important responsibility.”
Theobald has served as UW’s vice president for finance and administration since July 1, 2018. Before that, he was senior adviser to the president at Indiana University, where he was a tenured professor for two decades and served in a number of administrative roles — as senior vice president and chief financial officer (2007-2012), senior vice chancellor (2002-07), and director of the Indiana Education Policy Center (1993-2002).
From 2012-16, he was the president of Temple University, during which time the university improved its U.S. News and World Report ranking 17 places; increased annual research funding by 55 percent to over $250 million per year, which led the Carnegie Foundation to upgrade Temple to its highest research activity classification (R1); and doubled annual fundraising from $39 million to $84 million.
Temple also set undergraduate enrollment records each year Theobald was president. In addition to being the largest entering class in Temple’s history, the last freshman class during his tenure was the most academically qualified and diverse, with the percentage of underrepresented minority students increasing from 19.9 percent of the student population to 22.2 percent over three years. In 2014, the Philadelphia Business Journal named Theobald its Most Admired Education CEO.
Theobald received his bachelor’s degree in economics at Trinity College in 1978, before working as a high school mathematics teacher and baseball coach in Seattle. He earned his master’s degree in educational administration in 1986 and a Ph.D. in education finance in 1989, both from the University of Washington. Theobald received the Association of Education Finance and Policy’s Outstanding Dissertation Award in 1990.
“I first visited the University of Wyoming campus, as a graduate student, more than 30 years ago,” recalls Theobald. “My doctoral adviser, John Goodlad, sent me to Laramie to help set up the Wyoming School-University Partnership, which continues to thrive in its mission of improving teacher education and renewing schools. I came to know and love the state during numerous visits with my good friend, Dick Andrews, former UW dean of education. It will be such an honor to work in support of our outstanding faculty, staff and trustees as they enable student success and discover innovations that spur growth and diversification in Wyoming’s economy.”
The UW Board of Trustees’ expectations for the acting president include continuing implementation of UW’s strategic plan, “Breaking Through: 2017-2022,” and driving the university’s current initiatives; continuing outreach and UW’s presence around the state; growing and inspiring a team using calm confidence to bolster the UW community; and working closely with administration, faculty, staff, students and other stakeholders to advance projects that are working well and identify matters that need thoughtful attention.