Jim Bright's legacy in journalism and public relations spans 36 years and many countries.
Bright worked for Ford Motor Company for 24 years, retiring as global executive director of public affairs in 2006, and taught more than 400 IU journalism students from 2006-10.
After graduating from IU in 1974 with a bachelor's degree in journalism, Bright worked as a reporter at the Jeffersonville (Indiana) Evening News and the Louisville Courier-Journal.
In 1978, he began his career at Ford, traveling the southeast region writing an employee newsletter.
He left Ford for four years to work in internal communications for Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia.
Bright rejoined Ford in 1984. During the next 20 years, he led a PR blitz promoting the company and its products in the Southwestern U.S.; led the launch of new products, including Mustang and the F-Series pickup truck; served as co-leader of Ford's centennial celebration; and guided the company through communication crises, including product recalls, a plant explosion and a plane crash that killed four Ford executives.
From 2000-01, Bright served as deputy general manager, corporate communications, at Mazda's World Headquarters in Hiroshima, where he was the first non-Japanese member of its PR team. The team laid the communications groundwork for the largest launch of new products in the company's history.
As global executive director of public affairs, he led Ford's PR team in North America and overseas. At the request of chairman and CEO Bill Ford, he created and led the Ford Volunteer Corps, an effort to mobilize Ford employee and retiree volunteers to address needs of tsunami survivors in Thailand and India, hurricane survivors in the U.S. Gulf Coast region and nonprofits in Detroit and other communities where Ford has a presence.
After retiring from Ford, Bright taught for four years at the IU School of Journalism as the Ralph Winslow visiting professor. He created an International Public Relations course and, during spring breaks, accompanied students to Tokyo, where they met with journalists and PR professionals.
IU students selected Bright for the 2009 Student Choice Award. In 2010, he was named to the New Albany (Indiana) High School Hall of Fame.
Bright is a past president of the Bloomington Press Club. He and his wife, Anne, have supported dozens of IU international students through Bloomington Worldwide Friendship. They also volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Bright is active in Rotary International, a worldwide service organization, and serves as chair of his Rotary District's Global Scholarship program, which provides $40,000 annually for an Indiana graduate to study at any university outside the U.S. He has served as president of Bloomington Rotary and as governor of Rotary's Southern Indiana District.
Valuing his professional and teaching relationships, he writes newsletters to his former IU students and to Ford Public Affairs retirees.
"It's a real honor to be selected for this award," Bright said. "IU has been a big part of my life, and IU has always felt like family."