Thunderbird School of Global Management

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Thunderbird School of Global Management
Thunderbird School of Global Management Seal.svg
Former name
American Institute for Foreign Trade
Established8 April 1946;73 years ago (1946-04-08)
Academic affiliation
Arizona State University
Dean Dr. Sanjeev Khagram
Location, ,
United States
Campus Urban
Colors Thunderbird Blue, Gold and Grey [1]
Thunderbird School of Global Management Logo.svg

Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University (or simply Thunderbird) is a global management school located in Phoenix, Arizona. Founded 1946 as an independent, private institution, it was acquired by Arizona State University in 2014. The school derives its name from Thunderbird Field No. 1, a decommissioned World War II-era US Army Air Forces base which served as its campus for over 70 years. The school has since moved to other ASU locations, and construction of a new, US$ 50 million building in downtown Phoenix is expected to be completed in 2021. [2] As of 2018 the school had around 40,000 alumni, [3] , also referred to as "Thunderbirds" (or "T-Birds").

Phoenix, Arizona State capital city in Arizona, United States

Phoenix is the capital and most populous city of Arizona, with 1,626,000 people. It is also the fifth most populous city in the United States, and the most populous American state capital, and the only state capital with a population of more than one million residents.

Arizona State University Public university located in the Phoenix metropolitan area, Arizona, United States

Arizona State University is a public metropolitan research university on five campuses across the Phoenix metropolitan area, and four regional learning centers throughout Arizona.

Thunderbird Field No. 1 military airfield in Glendale, Arizona

Thunderbird Field was a military airfield in Glendale, Arizona, used for contract primary flight training of Allied pilots during World War II. Created in part by actor James Stewart, the field became part of the United States Army Air Forces training establishment just prior to American entry into the war and was re-designated Thunderbird Field #1 after establishment of Thunderbird Field #2 at nearby Scottsdale, on 22 June 1942. Thunderbird # 1 is located southeast of the intersection of West Greenway Road & North 59th Avenue in Glendale, Arizona.



Early history

The American Institute for Foreign Trade was founded by Lt. Gen. Barton Kyle Yount, a US Army Air Forces (AAF) officer who purchased the former Thunderbird Field from the War Assets Administration for one dollar, subject to the condition that the property be used for educational purposes for a minimum of 10 years. (This led to short-lived controversy as journalists questioned the propriety of the transaction.) As head of the Army Air Training Command, Yount had been recruited to the project by two AAF colonels, Finley Peter Dunne, Jr. and W. Stouder Thompson, who considered that the United States was (in Dunne's words) "notoriously short of personnel trained for foreign trade." Yount agreed that "the young men who were going to foreign countries to represent American business were, in many cases, entirely untrained and unfit to represent their firms and their government." [4] The school was chartered as a nonprofit Arizona corporation on April 8, 1946. Over the next six months, Yount and Dunne (Thompson having departed the project) selected the Phoenix location, arranged financing, remodeled the physical plant (which included several airplane hangers and a control tower), and recruited faculty and students. Students were required to be "at least twenty years of age who through study in college or the armed forces, have completed at least two years above high school, or the equivalent thereof." [5] This last provision was interpreted to allow military or work experience to substitute for formal university study.

Barton Kyle Yount United States Army general

Barton Kyle Yount was a United States Army lieutenant general. His most important assignments were carried out in military aviation as a member of the U.S. Army Air Forces.

Classes officially began on October 1, 1946, with 285 students and 18 faculty members. (Early catalogues give these figures as 296 and 22, respectively.) 98% of the students attended on the G.I. Bill (provision was also made for the "instruction of wives"). The first certificates were awarded June 14, 1947. The program mixed business courses with instruction in Spanish or Portuguese languages and Latin American culture, for a "tripartite curriculum" consisting of international commerce, languages, and area studies. (Course offerings soon expanded to include French language and Western European and "Far Eastern" area studies.) Students wishing to earn a BBA could transfer their credits to the University of Houston. In 1951, Thunderbird began granting the Bachelor of Foreign Trade to students who already possessed undergraduate degrees, or at least three years of coursework, while the others continued to be awarded certificates. [6] Thunderbird thus became one of the first tertiary institutions to offer international business degrees.

G.I. Bill United States law that provided a range of benefits for returning World War II veterans

The Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944, also known as the G.I. Bill, was a law that provided a range of benefits for returning World War II veterans. It was passed by the 78th United States Congress and signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on June 22, 1944. The original G.I. Bill expired in 1956, but the term "G.I. Bill" is still used to refer to programs created to assist U.S. military veterans.

University of Houston state research university in Houston, Texas, United States

The University of Houston (UH) is a state research university and the main institution of the University of Houston System. Founded in 1927, UH is the third-largest university in Texas with over 46,000 students. Its campus spans 667 acres in southeast Houston, and was known as University of Houston–University Park from 1983 to 1991. The Carnegie Foundation classifies UH as a doctoral degree-granting institution with "highest research activity." The U.S. News & World Report ranks the university No. 171 in its National University Rankings, and No. 91 among top public universities.

A Master of Foreign Trade degree began to be offered in 1952, and required four semesters of study, in contrast to two semesters for the bachelors. (This replaced an earlier system which distinguished between Course I and Course II of the bachelors degree, the latter being more specialized and requiring one or two additional semesters.) Over the following decades, the masters degree--renamed the Master of International Management (MIM)--came to dominate, while the undergraduate program was phased out (and ceased to be awarded by 1975). The school accordingly changed its name to the "Thunderbird Graduate School of International Management" (in 1967), and then to the "American Graduate School of International Management" (in 1973). [7] The American Management Association entered into some sort of relationship with the school, while the North Central Association granted Thunderbird regional accreditation in 1969 and 1974. Accreditation by the American Association of Collegiate Schools of Business proved more elusive (and would not be granted until 1994), since Thunderbird did not then award the MBA degree, and indeed emphasized the "difference of degree" in its marketing materials.

American Management Association

The American Management Association (AMA) is an American non-profit educational membership organization for the promotion of management, based in New York City. The association has its headquarter in New York City, and has local head-offices throughout the world.

Regional accreditation aspect of university accreditation in the U.S.A.

Regional accreditation is the educational accreditation of schools, colleges, and universities in the United States by one of seven regional accrediting agencies. Accreditation is a voluntary process by which colleges demonstrate to each other, and sometimes to employers and licensing agencies, that their credits and degrees meet minimum standards. It is the self-regulation of the higher education industry.

Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business Non-governmental organization

The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, also known as AACSB International, is an American professional organization. It was founded in 1916 to provide accreditation to schools of business. It was formerly known as the American Association of Collegiate Schools of Business and as the International Association for Management Education. Not all members of the association are accredited; it does not accredit for-profit schools. In 2016 it lost recognition by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

Over the 1970s and 1980s, enrollment rose to more than 1000, while Thunderbird's endowment also grew, reaching US$ one million in 1982 (and 20 million in 199?). At the same time, Thunderbird began to experience competition from other American (and ultimately, foreign) business schools as international business increasingly became a mainstream subject. Thunderbird's relative poverty, and lack of affiliation with a full-fledged university, proved significant disadvantages, even as interest in business education skyrocketed during the Reagan administration.

1990s and 2000s

Beginning in the 1990s, the school went by the name Thunderbird, the American Graduate School of International Management. [8] After reaching a peak enrollment of around 1,600 in the 1990s, Thunderbird saw declining enrollment numbers in the 2000s. [9] The school also saw a decline in the number of foreign students enrolled as a result of stricter visa rules. [10]

In 2001, the school began to offer a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in International Management, replacing the previously offered Master of International Management.[ citation needed ] Three years later, the school changed its name to Thunderbird, the Garvin School of International Management, following a $13 million donation (part of a pledge that was originally planned to be $60 million) [11] from alumnus Samuel Garvin. The same year, the school hired Ángel Cabrera to serve as president. [12] Cabrera oversaw the school's 2006 adoption of their Professional Oath of Honor. The oath was developed with input from students and faculty and was considered by the school to be the first of its kind for business schools. Students sign the pledge upon graduation promising to act ethically and honestly in the business world (similar to the Hippocratic Oath taken by doctors). [13] [14] [15]

Ángel Cabrera (academic) President of George Mason University

Ángel Cabrera Izquierdo is the sixth President of George Mason University, the past President of Thunderbird School of Global Management, and the former dean of IE Business School. His scholarship includes work on learning, management and leadership.

Hippocratic Oath physicians oath

The Hippocratic Oath is an oath historically taken by physicians. It is one of the most widely known of Greek medical texts. In its original form, it requires a new physician to swear, by a number of healing gods, to uphold specific ethical standards. The oath is the earliest expression of medical ethics in the Western world, establishing several principles of medical ethics which remain of paramount significance today. These include the principles of medical confidentiality and non-maleficence. As the seminal articulation of certain principles that continue to guide and inform medical practice, the ancient text is of more than historic and symbolic value. Swearing a modified form of the oath remains a rite of passage for medical graduates in many countries.

Garvin's name was removed from the school's name in 2007. The school began to use the name Thunderbird School of Global Management, to focus on the Thunderbird brand and highlight the school's focus on global business. [16] [17] At this time, Garvin's name was given to the newly created position, the Garvin Distinguished Professor of Global Management Research, and was still used for the Garvin Center of Cultures and Languages of International Management and the Garvin Professorship of Entrepreneurship. [16] [17] As part of the transition to the new name, the school adopted a logo of a phoenix with a globe-shaped body. [17]


In 2011, after efforts by a Thunderbird alumnus, Arizona began selling Thunderbird license plates. [18] The following year, Larry Penley became the president of Thunderbird. [19]

In March 2013, the school announced a planned partnership with Laureate Education, Inc. [20] As part of the planned partnership, Thunderbird would remain a nonprofit organization, exempt from income tax as a 501(c)(3), [20] [21] but would establish a joint educational service company with Laureate, a for-profit company. This joint company would launch an undergraduate program and expand online programs. Undergraduate students would attend Thunderbird for the final year of their undergraduate degree program. [21] [22] The planned partnership would allow Thunderbird to host events at Laureate campuses worldwide and establish Thunderbird campuses abroad. The school announced Paris, Madrid, Brazil and Chile as potential sites. [20] [23] [24] [25] According to the school, Laureate would have no influence over its academic decisions. Thunderbird would also retain degree-awarding powers. [21] [23] [25] However, Laureate would be given three seats on the school's board. [20] [21]

Under the agreement, Thunderbird would sell its campus to Laureate in a leaseback agreement. The school would continue to operate from its Glendale campus, but would use the money from the sale to pay off its debts. [20] [21] [25] Thunderbird alumni would have the option to purchase the campus from Laureate within two years or the school may repurchase the campus at the end of the twenty-year lease agreement. [20] As well, Laureate and Thunderbird had planned to invest $20 million and $10 million respectively to provide for campus improvements. [20] [25]

The proposed agreement was protested by some Thunderbird alumni and board members who expressed concern about the impact that the partnership would have on the school's reputation. [21] [22] [23] In response, alumni in opposition of the proposed agreement signed an online petition in protest. [20] [21] [22] Additionally, some alumni formed the Thunderbird Independent Alumni Association, which expressed concerns over the agreement. [21] Following the announcement of the planned agreement, five Thunderbird board members and seven members of the Thunderbird Alumni Network board resigned. [23] [26] The proposed agreement was also supported by alumni and faculty whose statements were presented on the school's website. [21] [26]

The planned structure change was approved by the school's board in June 2013, although The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, the school's regional accreditor, did not approve the proposal. [21] [23] [25] Thunderbird had stated that they anticipated that the agreement would be approved, as other Laureate schools are accredited through the Commission. [21]

As of January 2014, the school's president was Larry Penley [25] [27] and the school employed 48 faculty members. [28]

In December of 2014, Dr. Allen J. Morrison, was appointed the new CEO and Director General of Thunderbird. [29]

In 2015, the school finalized an agreement with Arizona State University to be integrated as a college within the university. [30]

In April 2018, ASU appoints Sanjeev Khagram as the dean, director-general of Thunderbird. [31]

Status within ASU

Thunderbird is described as a "unit" of the "Arizona State University Knowledge Enterprise." A unit, in contrast to a school or college (but like an "institute"), is said to be focused broadly, developing and disseminating knowledge throughout ASU. Accordingly, Thunderbird retains its own logo and other distinctive marketing dress. [32]


Thunderbird's degrees have historically included the Bachelor of Foreign Trade (until 1975), the Master of International Management (until 2001), an MBA in Global Management (through 2016)[ citation needed ], and executive education programs. Since its acquisition by ASU, Thunderbird has revived the undergraduate program (the Bachelor of Global Management; its students are called "Underbirds"), phased out the MBA (which the Carey School already offered), and introduced the Master of Global Management, a non-MBA graduate degree with a number of formal concentrations. The school also offers a Micromasters program and certificate.


Thunderbird International Business Review is one of several journals published by the school (six times a year).


Business school rankings
Worldwide MBA
Business Insider [33] 41
U.S. News & World Report [34] 88
U.S. News & World Report [35] {{{USNWRu}}}

Forbes ranked Thunderbird as the 54th best business school in the U.S. in 2011, [36] and a 2012 report released by Bloomberg Businessweek ranked Thunderbird as the top international business program. [37] Thunderbird was also ranked as the 5th most diverse school out of 82 schools surveyed, based on student responses about students' country of origin, gender and ethnicity. [38] In 2013, The Financial Times ranked Thunderbird's executive education program ninth overall based on corporate client feedback to The Financial Times. [39] Also in 2013, The Economist released ratings for online programs and gave Thunderbird a rating of "good", which was one step down from the publication's top rating of "excellent". [40] In its 2014 rankings, published in 2013, U.S. News & World Report ranked Thunderbird as the best international business school in their annual rankings, marking the eighteenth consecutive year the school was named top international business program. [37] In U.S. News & World Report's 2015 rankings, published in 2014, Thunderbird was ranked 85th for best business school, and second in the overall rankings for international business school. [41] [42]

According to a 2019 Times Higher Education/Wall Street Journal report, Thunderbird is currently ranked number 1 in the world in Masters in Management programs for its specialized Masters in Global Management (MGM) degree. [43]


The Thunderbird campus is located on the former World War II airfield Thunderbird Field No. 1. Located in Glendale, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix, the airfield was built in 1941 and was used to train pilots. [44] [45] The school has utilized the existing buildings on the airfield and many of the school's classrooms are located in the airfield's former barracks. [44]

The airfield's air traffic control tower is still present on campus. Beginning in 2007, the tower underwent a restoration project at the urging of three Thunderbird students who raised $2.5 million for the project. The school was awarded the Ruth Bryne Historic Preservation Award by the city of Glendale for the renovation. The tower is currently occupied by the campus store, student lounges and a pub. [45]

In 2011, one of the then-70-year-old airplane hangars on campus was removed. The building, named the Thunderbird Activity Center by the school, had been used for special events and exams, but was determined to no longer meet safety standards following an inspection of the campus. [45]

Thunderbird also has campuses in Moscow, Russia, as well as Dubai, UAE, and Geneva, Switzerland.[ citation needed ]

Other buildings on campus include the International Business Information Centre (IBIC), which is Thunderbird's library, and a dining hall for students. The school's campus also features a Welcome Wall, which was built in 1992, and displays greetings in different languages. [13]

On December 12, 2017 ASU announced that Thunderbird's historical campus will be closed and the school will be moved to a more modern facility in downtown Phoenix. As part of the move, ASU invested $13.5M in the new building, a record investment for Thunderbird. [46]


Students, alumni and faculty are often referred to as Thunderbirds or T-birds. [44] [12] Students run a school newspaper named Das Tor. [47] 02). For over 50 years,all graduates have been required to take a minimum of 4 semesters of foreign language or demonstrate equivalent proficiency. [48] Other student activities include Thunderbird's several sports clubs. One of the longest lasting is the Thunderbird Rugby Football Club, founded in 1976. The club regularly hosts a tournament, the Thunderbird Rugby Invitational, with other business schools from around the U.S.[ citation needed ]

Every year, one student of the graduating class is awarded the Barton Kyle Yount Award in honor of the school's founder and first president. The award is determined on the basis of scholarship, accomplishment and character.[ citation needed ]


Thunderbird has a number of notable graduates, including Walid Chammah, former chairman of Morgan Stanley; [20] Bob Dudley, the current CEO of BP; [20] and Luis Alberto Moreno, former Ambassador of Colombia to the United States and the current president of the Inter-American Development Bank. [49] Lee Abbamonte, the youngest American to visit all 193 United Nations member states, graduated in 2010. [50] Ramon Laguarta is currently the CEO of PepsiCo. [51]

Thunderbird has 43,000 alumni who work for more than 12,000 different organizations across 150 countries. [16] [20]

See also

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