Merger Mania: State of Our School

By Emma Livingston, Co-editor

I want to start a conversation at Thunderbird about our vision for this school’s future. For the next few weeks, I will be writing a series of articles about what we value in the school, what people are worried about, and where we would like to see Thunderbird five, twenty, fifty years down the road. Das Tor can be a forum for us to come together as a community, share our concerns, share what the Thunderbird brand means to us, and share what we hope the school can be in the future.

Why do I think it’s important to write these articles now?

cupOn January 29, 2015, a celebration was held at the Thunderbird Event Center entitled “A New Beginning” to kick off the partnership between Arizona State University and Thunderbird School of Global Management. We were promised that ASU’s acquisition of Thunderbird would be good for both institutions. We were promised that Thunderbird students would continue to receive world class education in global management from premier professors. We were promised that, as the event itself proclaimed, this would be a new, and presumably better, beginning for Thunderbird.

One year later and it is time to evaluate whether we have taken meaningful action to fulfill these promises or not. Are Thunderbird and ASU better-off now that they’ve joined forces? Has the global management education offered at Thunderbird improved, or at least maintained the same caliber as before the merger? Has this truly been a “new beginning” for Thunderbird, meaning a fresh start with a renewed energy and a clear vision for the future? Unfortunately, the answer to these questions, for me, is: I’m not sure.

“I’m not sure” is not good enough at this critical point in our school’s history. I want to continue to be proud of our school, and I want to be optimistic about our school’s future. I want the faculty and staff to be motivated and engaged. I want more and more students enrolling every year and I want these new students to be blown away by the quality of their global education here. I want students to have a rich array of international experiences to choose from and I want experiential learning and cultural immersion to continue to be a core part of what it means to study at Thunderbird. Finally, I want clear channels of meaningful communication between different student groups, between the students and the faculty, and especially between the school administration and all the other stakeholders at this school.

I am writing this article because I want to help ensure that Thunderbird is a strong, powerful brand that will grow and thrive for another 7o years into the future.  If we want to strengthen our school, all of us, from the students to the faculty to the alumni to the Thunderbird and ASU administrations must be focused and clear about what Thunderbird’s value proposition is as an institution and committed to delivering that value.

Das Tor is taking a first step and starting a conversation among the entire Thunderbird community about what Thunderbird means to us, what we are concerned about, and what Thunderbird could be. Together, we can find a way to articulate and promote the school’s core values, and to develop a clear, motivating vision for the future. Let’s start with this question: What does Thunderbird mean to you?

Let the conversation begin. The first article has been published.

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