BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – After serving for nearly one year in an interim capacity, J Thomas Forbes has been named permanent president and CEO of the Indiana University Foundation by IU President Pamela Whitten. The appointment followed a vote of the IU Foundation board’s executive committee and Whitten’s consultation with other board committee chairs.
“I have had the privilege of getting to know J T. since my tenure as IU president began and have been impressed by his abilities, vision and transparent communication,” Whitten said. “J T. has my utmost confidence, and I look forward to working closely with him to support IU’s mission and the essential role philanthropy plays in making a difference in the lives of our students, the work of our faculty and the future of our university.”
Forbes has been CEO of the IU Alumni Association since June 2010. Under his leadership, the association has improved the personal and professional lives of IU graduates in ways that reflect the spirit, pride and traditions of IU. Forbes has also enhanced the partnership between IU’s alumni representatives and the university’s development and engagement professionals.
An IU alum, former trustee and former associate vice president at IU, Forbes also helped IU establish a comprehensive public affairs and government relations program and lead the legislative strategy for the university’s life sciences initiatives. Forbes began serving as interim president and CEO of the IU Foundation on Jan. 1, 2021, after long-serving IU Foundation President Daniel C. Smith decided to return to the faculty of the Kelley School of Business upon the successful completion of For All: The Indiana University Bicentennial Campaign.
“Never in my wildest dreams as an Indiana University student did I ever imagine being called to serve as the chief steward of its philanthropic legacy and principal champion for all those who work to extend this legacy,” Forbes said. “All members of the Indiana University community form a powerful force for good in the world.
“Working to strengthen the global network of support for our extraordinary students, faculty and staff is inspiring and meaningful. Thank you to President Whitten, IU Foundation Board Vice Chair Kay Booth and the entire IU Foundation Board of Directors for their confidence and trust. I accept this role with a resolute heart, venturous mind and reverent spirit wholly dedicated to the promise of my beloved alma mater.”
An experienced higher education leader, Forbes has served in communications, marketing, public affairs and government relations roles at IU and Michigan State University, and he has consulted in these areas for other major public research and land grant colleges. Outside higher education, he served as the first director of state government relations for Cummins Inc., the principal private-sector staff leader for the U.S.-Brazil CEO Forum, the first policy analyst for the Indiana Senate and a founding member of the Indiana Commission on Community Service.
As a student, he was president of the IU Bloomington student body, founded the All University Student Assembly, and served as a trustee of Indiana University and a founding member of the Philanthropic Studies Society at IUPUI. He is a life member of the IU Alumni Association.
“I am delighted to congratulate J T. on his permanent appointment as president and CEO of the IU Foundation,” said Kay Booth, vice chair of the IU Foundation Board of Directors. “It has been a true privilege working with J T. during this past year as he served the foundation in an interim role. His extensive experience in higher education, leadership and devotion to Indiana University are evident, and I am confident in his ability to build on our past successes and move the IU Foundation to even greater heights.”