Buena Vista University has announced that Dr. Paul Theobald, a nationally known scholar and expert on the history of education in the United States, has been named dean of the School of Education.
Theobald, who will start in the BVU position on July 1, is currently interim dean of the School of Education at Buffalo State College in Buffalo, N.Y., where he is also the Woods-Beal Endowed Chair in Urban and Rural Education.
A native of Rochester, Minn., he earned a bachelor’s degree in history (1978) at St. John’s University, Collegeville, Minn., a bachelor’s in social studies education (1981) and master’s degree in history (1985) at Mankato State University, Minn. He taught in rural Minnesota public schools for seven years before pursuing his PhD in educational policy studies which he received in 1990 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Since then he has served as an assistant professor of curriculum and instruction at Texas A&M University; assistant and associate professor, as well as head of the Department of Teacher Education, at South Dakota State University; professor and director of the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse; professor and dean of the School of Education and Counseling at Wayne State College in Nebraska. He has been at Buffalo State College since 2004.
“I am very pleased and excited to have someone of Paul Theobald's stature lead our School of Education,” says Dr. David Evans, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty. “From his initial application, I have been particularly compelled by his expertise in rural education, since BVU and our 15 sites are primarily rural, and we prepare many teachers who serve in rural areas. With his leadership, we have the opportunity to develop special expertise in rural and small-town teaching, which should serve our students and all the schools we work with very well.”
Theobald has published more than 50 journal articles and chapters, as well as three books. The most recent one, Education Now: How Re-Thinking America’s Past Can Change Its Future, recently received the Critic’s Choice Award from the American Educational Studies Association.
His first book, Call School: Rural Education in the Midwest to 1918, published in 1995, has been the definitive study on the history of rural education in this country. His second book, Teaching the Commons: Place, Pride, and the Renewal of Community, published in 1997, has been a popular text in graduate education classes in the United States and abroad.
“Iowa has a long history as an educational leader, yet policy-makers have consistently looked elsewhere for examples of how to best educate our youth,” says Theobald. “This needs to change and I am eager to be a part of that. I am looking forward not only to helping Buena Vista continue to prepare excellent teachers, but, additionally, helping the University carve out a place in the nation’s educational conversation.”
His wife, Maureen, is a graduate of Wayne State College and has been a medical technologist for 30 years.
The Theobalds share a passion for rural literature and saving great works for posterity, an advocacy that he has developed into a national initiative, Rural Lit R.A.L.L.Y.
They have five children: Nathan, who works for a landscape design company in Omaha, Neb.; Brianna, a graduate student at Arizona State University, Tempe; Carly, a graduate student at Buffalo State College; Renee, who works in a bar and restaurant in Wayne, Neb.; and Alayna, an undergraduate student at the University of Nebraska, Kearney.