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Last modified: Monday, May 10, 2010

J Thomas Forbes chosen as head of IU Alumni Association

May 10, 2010

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie announced today (May 10) that he has selected J Thomas Forbes to become executive director of the Indiana University Alumni Association. Forbes will begin his new duties on June 1.

J Thomas Forbes

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The appointment marks a homecoming for Forbes, currently the director of State Government Relations at Cummins Inc. of Columbus, Ind. He is an alumnus, former trustee and former associate vice president at IU, who, in recent years, helped IU establish a comprehensive public affairs and government relations program and helped lead the legislative strategy for the university's life sciences initiatives.

"I am extremely pleased that JT. Forbes is returning to Indiana University," McRobbie said. "He is a proven leader and strategic thinker who, for the better part of the last two decades, has been actively engaged in bringing together individuals from all across the university spectrum to represent and promote IU's longstanding traditions of excellence. His experience and knowledge of IU will serve him well as he helps IU expand its impact and connect with alumni throughout the state, nation and world."

Forbes replaces Tom Martz, who stepped down from the leadership post at the IUAA earlier this year. John Hobson will continue to serve in an interim leadership capacity until Forbes' arrival.

In his new position, Forbes, who has served four IU presidents, will work closely with other IU offices to strengthen relations with IU alumni and help develop a university-wide advancement strategy. The IUAA was founded in 1854 and has grown into a worldwide organization that serves more than a half million IU graduates.

"I am extremely excited at the prospect of working to strengthen and enhance IU's ties to its alumni body," Forbes said. "This is a time of great progress and promise at the university, and I am honored to be joining President McRobbie's team."

At Cummins, a multinational Fortune 500 company that serves customers in approximately 190 countries and territories, Forbes has overseen state government relations and offered guidance on issues concerning state workforce, education and economic development. He has also served as one of the principal staff leaders of the United States-Brazil CEO Forum, an organization that is working to strengthen the economic and commercial ties between the two nations.

Forbes was associate vice president for public affairs at IU from 2007 to 2008, serving as a member of the president's cabinet and managing several major units within the Office of the Vice President for Public Affairs and Government Relations, including creative services, Hoosiers for Higher Education, state government relations and university marketing.

Additionally, he worked with leaders in business, education and government across the state to secure major funding for a number of the university's strategic priorities, including the Indiana Life Sciences Initiative. As IU's assistant vice president for government relations from 2004 to 2007, he acted as the primary liaison between the university and the legislative and executive branches of Indiana government.

From 2001 to 2004, Forbes was assistant vice president for university relations at Michigan State University, where he led the university's communications division. Prior to his work in Michigan, he served as assistant vice president for public affairs and government relations at IU from 1997 to 2001 and as special assistant to the former President Myles Brand and coordinator of federal relations for two years.

Forbes also assisted former IU state relations director Don Weaver and served as a policy analyst in the Indiana General Assembly, working with members from both sides of the aisle and representatives of the administration.

Forbes was appointed by the governor to serve as an IU trustee from 1993 to 1995. His service on the board included work as chair of the external affairs and government relations committee.

Forbes earned a bachelor's degree in political science and a master's degree in public affairs and nonprofit management from IU. While an undergraduate, he served as student body president and founded the All University Student Assembly, of which he also was president.

A resident of Bloomington, he is a member of the city's Board of Public Safety, a board member of Habitat for Humanity of Monroe County and a life member of the IU Alumni Association.