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Last modified: Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Theobald receives Indiana University President's Medal

Dec. 11, 2012

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie has presented the President's Medal for Excellence to Neil Theobald, IU's chief financial officer, who will become the next president of Temple University in Philadelphia on Jan. 1. The President's Medal is the highest honor an IU president can bestow.

Neil Theobald

Indiana University Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Neil Theobald, left, receives the President's Medal for Excellence from IU President Michael A. McRobbie.

Print-Quality Photo

Theobald, who joined IU in 1993 as an associate professor of educational finance in the School of Education, has served as chief financial officer since July 2007 and was named senior vice president in October 2011. He is a recognized expert on educational finance who has long been a strong voice for educational affordability and academic excellence at IU.

The presentation was made during a special farewell ceremony for Theobald and his wife, Sheona Mackenzie, Monday afternoon, Dec. 10, at IU's Musical Arts Center.

McRobbie praised Theobald for his outstanding fiscal leadership during the nation's prolonged economic crisis and innovative thinking that helped reduce the impact of recent cuts in higher education funding.

"Thanks to Neil's superb financial management of the institution, IU has been able to weather the Great Recession far better than many of our peers," McRobbie said. "We have been able to not only preserve but to enhance the academic mission of the institution and the infrastructure that supports it. We have continued to elevate the quality of our faculty, to keep an IU education affordable, to attract record numbers of highly qualified students and to provide those students with record amounts of institutional aid.

"Neil's leadership has helped to make all this possible," McRobbie added. "Indiana University and the state of Indiana owe him a great debt for his outstanding service over the past two decades."

As CFO, Theobald has been responsible for managing the university's $3 billion budget, which supports its more than 110,000 students, 3,000 faculty and 14,000 staff members.

During his tenure, he has led a comprehensive effort to control the university's spending through increased operating efficiencies. At the same time, the university has elevated the quality of its faculty and attracted some of the best students in its history, prompting a number of educational publications to recognize IU as one the best values in U.S. higher education in recent years.

Theobald also has been a passionate advocate for the need to reduce student debt. His office has led a number of initiatives to help students lower their debt loads and better understand the implications of borrowing, including the university's new Office of Student Financial Literacy announced in June.

A native of Peoria, Ill., Theobald came to IU from the University of Washington, where he was associate professor of education finance. He earned a bachelor's degree from Trinity College and a doctoral degree from the University of Washington.

He is a past president of the American Education Finance Association, winning the association's Jean Flanigan Award for the outstanding dissertation in the study of educational finance in 1990. In 1995, the University Council for Educational Administration presented Theobald with the Jack A. Culbertson Award as the professor who, in the first seven years of his or her career, made the most outstanding contribution to the profession. In 2003, Theobald was presented the Distinguished Graduate Award by the College of Education at the University of Washington. Theobald is a three-time winner of IU's Teaching Excellence Recognition Award.

Theobald's newest honor, the President's Medal for Excellence, recognizes, among other criteria, distinction in public service, service to IU and extraordinary merit and achievement in the arts, humanities, sciences, education and industry. The medal itself is a reproduction in silver of the symbolic jewel of office worn by IU's president at ceremonial occasions.