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Tom Sugar, former Evan Bayh aide, lands job at national education research firm

April 17, 2018

Tom Sugar, a longtime aide to former Indiana Gov. and Sen. Evan Bayh, has a new job as a vice president at a Washington, D.C.-based education and technology research firm.

Sugar, 55, has been named vice president of partnerships for EAB, where he will work with foundations, businesses, higher education groups and government to address higher education challenges, the company announced Monday. EAB, an acronym for Educational Advisory Board, split from the the Advisory Board Co. late last year.

Sugar most recently served as president for Indianapolis-based Complete College America, a not-for-profit group he helped found in 2009 to improve student graduation and college attainment rates. He left the group in February.

EAB company works with 1,200 colleges, including 30 in Indiana including Indiana University, the University of Notre Dame, and Butler University. Part of its business is offering predictive analytics tools to colleges to help them keep students on track for graduating.

“It feels like an opportunity and a rare instance to do well and do good at the same time,” Sugar said of his transition from the not-for-profit sector to the business world.

Sugar founded Complete College America with former Indiana higher education commissioner Stan Jones, who died in early 2017 after a battle with cancer.

“It was quite a journey together,” Sugar told IBJ. “I got reflective about what’s next, the state of the college completion movement, and thought about what makes sense for me to be able to exert the most influence to complete the job.

Sugar said when the group started pushing strategies related to college completion “no one was listening.”

Now, he said, “the conversation has changed” and that colleges are more in an implementation phase of various completion strategies.

Sugar said he sees an opportunity to do the next iteration of college completion work at EAB, where he hopes to “build seamless pathways” for students between community colleges and four-year institutions.

He plans to initially stay an Indiana resident though he may move to Washington at some point.

Sugar served in various capacities under Bayh, including as chief of staff on his gubernatorial and U.S. Senate staffs.

He considered running for governor himself in 2016, but decided not to run, criticizing the Indiana Democratic Party for discouraging a Democratic primary contest.

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