Oregon State University trustee Orcilia Forbes passes away


Orcilia Zúñiga Forbes

Orcilia Zúñiga Forbes, a member of the Oregon State University Board of Trustees and former OSU vice president, died on Friday, Aug. 28. She was 77.

Forbes began her service on the OSU Board of Trustees on July 1, 2013, having served as a member of the Oregon State Board of Higher Education. She had a long and distinguished career in higher education, health care and grant administration. She was a noted community leader and was active on many boards, including serving as a trustee of the Meyer Memorial Trust since 1999.

She retired from Oregon State in 2004 having served since 1998 as vice president of university advancement.

“Orcilia has been a dear friend since I arrived at Oregon State,” OSU President Ed Ray said Sunday morning. “I will miss her greatly.

“Her service as OSU vice president for advancement and on the Oregon University System and Oregon State boards was exemplary,” Ray said. “In my career, I have found that at any important meeting, there are people who you will always hear from. And then there are the few people like Orcilia, who you want to hear from. She made people around her better leaders and people.”

While at OSU, Forbes led the university’s alumni relations, development, communications, marketing, and community and government relations. She was also the executive liaison to the OSU Alumni Association and the OSU Foundation and served as interim president of the OSU Foundation from 2002-03. Prior to coming to Oregon State in 1998, she served as vice president of student affairs and institutional advancement at the University of New Mexico and the dean of students and vice president of student affairs at Portland State University.

Forbes served as vice chair of the Academic Strategies Committee of the Oregon State Board of Trustees.

“Orcilia’s quiet wisdom was a guiding presence for our board,” said Pat Reser, chair of the OSU Board of Trustees.

“Orcilia was a great friend of Oregon State University and she contributed in many ways as a trustee,” said Darry Callahan, vice chair of the board. “We will miss her greatly as a friend and as a trustee.”

Forbes served as a trustee for the Meyer Memorial Trust since 1999. She also served on the boards of the Chalkboard Project and the University of New Mexico Foundation. In addition, Forbes served on the boards of many community organizations, including the Albuquerque and Portland Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, Providence Health and Services System, National Hispanic Cultural Center Foundation, and the Spanish Colonial Arts Society. In 2009, the University of New Mexico’s Alumni Association honored her for her contributions as an alumna.

Forbes earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of New Mexico in 1960. She went on to receive her master’s degree in nursing from Oregon Health and Science University; an M.P.H. in health administration and planning from University of California, Berkeley; and a Ph.D. in educational policy and management from the University of Oregon.

Forbes was married to the late Richard Bryan Forbes, former department head of biology at Portland State University, and had two children, daughter Eryn and son Bryan.

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