What do YOU think about the Laureate partnership?


Courtesy: Sneha Gayatri
Courtesy: Sneha Gayatri

We’ve been hearing the perspectives of a majority of the school administrators and the alumni. We asked a few students and faculty about what they really thought about the partnership, and here’s what they had to say:

“I understand why Thunderbird did it.”
Anonymous, MBA’14

“I was Academic Affairs Chair for TSG when the partnership was announced and have been following it closely ever since. This partnership is a bold initiative by both Thunderbird and Laureate. In the business world “bold” is oftentimes synonymous with “risky”, and this partnership is no different. Are there risks? Absolutely. Will this partnership mean the end of Thunderbird as we know it? Absolutely not.”
Ed Snook, MBA’13

“Given the circumstances the school has been going through for the past couple of years, this is not the worst that could have happened. I believe it’s a welcoming change. The way we utilize this new opportunity to grow ourselves beyond borders and yet maintain the very brand we pride ourselves off at all touch points will be essential. The primary questions that will arise when we do start moving across the world and set up locations is the quality of students and professors who will begin to fall under the Thunderbird belt. Will they live up to our brand or are we going to let our range vary drastically? This deal is a start, we have to take it from here and grow consistently yet with extreme caution.”
Anonymous, MSGM’12

“Thunderbird’s curriculum includes not only the traditional disciplines of global business but also addresses the complex issues that arise when communicating in a global context, issues related to cross-cultural communication, negotiation, business communication, and proficiency in a foreign language. One way that Thunderbird currently reinforces the teachings and learnings about communication in a global context is through study abroad modules. One of the exciting aspects of the alliance with Laureate is the access to Laureate’s multiple international campuses, which will allow Thunderbird to expand its portfolio of study abroad options, allowing students to both broaden and deepen their exposure to living in different countries, speaking different languages, and improving their cross-cultural skills, thereby strengthening and reinforcing this key aspect of our student body that makes Thunderbird unique.”
Prof. Macdonald, Director of Business Communications

“I have 2 opinions: support and disagreement.
Support: Our school doesn’t have funds, so if we do not get anyone to back up our financial status, we will be bankrupt soon. Even though Laureate has a bad reputation, it may be the one source that can help us. We should also think about how this affects school rankings, and if partnering with Laureate helps increase our access to career opportunities, then this is a great deal.
Disagreement: As most individuals are concerned, even I am worried about Laureate’s reputation and whether or how it may mess with our brand. We don’t know if Laureate’s goals will change because it is a for-profit organization. I think we should adopt a wait and watch stance for now, but if Laureate wants to change our core competencies, we should not ignore this anymore. But if it doesn’t change and instead our ranking improves, Laureate would be a good choice. We may have just devalued our reputation in the short-term, but we can survive during the crisis much better.”
Anonymous, MBA’14

“I may not be an expert on the JV but I think it is a good idea, the school is in financial trouble and it has been for a while now, people can blame mismanagement, the economy, whatever they want but there is no other way of putting it. There has been a lot of talk about the benefits and I can see how it will help, but I am curious what would be Thunderbird’s exit strategy for the alliance in the future, if there is one. And like in every JV, who will benefit more Thunderbird or Laureate? My main problem in this situation is not the JV itself but the way some alumni have been behaving. Their actions have consequences and I believe we will be the ones who will pay for it. Yes, there are many schools that are not for profit that have been successful and are not in the financial state that Thunderbird is in, but going to the press and speaking very negatively about Thunderbird affects us, the ones who are still in school and will be looking for a job soon (if we aren’t already). One of the best things about Thunderbird is the alumni community we have and it seems some have forgotten that we are still here, for example, a chapter in Shanghai said that the best thing would be to just close the school. I feel that the alumni have forgotten what Thunderbird is and if they actually cared enough about the school, they should have contributed with donations, participated more and not talked to the press.”
Anonymous, MBA’14

“I am apprehensive to the partnership because of the tight-lipped approach that it all came about in. We are constantly being told ‘Don’t worry- look at all the positives!’, but no one is realistically acknowledging: How did we get here in the first place? What did we attempt to do to fix the financial situation before and why did it fail? What are we losing by the partnership or what risks are we taking on? I think I speak for the Thunderbird community, which is composed of highly intelligent individuals, in saying that we won’t be satisfied without a 360 degree presentation on all the details to know if it was the best rational decision.”
Scott Cornelius, MBA’14

“I feel that the partnership with Laureate has the potential to be a great success or completely disastrous. It seems most fears have been generated by the poor communication strategy, but furthermore, the uncertainty in the outcome. When we as Thunderbirds felt like we were entering into a graduate program that promised a guarantee of global respect for our degree, it is very troubling to now be forced into this risk. I have hopes that it will be positive in the long run and Thunderbird will sustain its world class reputation, and I guess some students have enough knowledge about the graduate education industry to say this is an absolute disaster. I certainly do not have such an expertise, so I choose to hope for the best and contribute positively to the Thunderbird name.”
Anonymous, MBA’14

“Overall, I think the partnership is good for Thunderbird. However, the school could have done a lot better in terms of negotiating the partnership.”
Anonymous, MBA’14

“The administration should have done a better job in the beginning to explain what’s in it for the students, alumni and their career. We are stakeholders too. What I care about most is if potential employers will form a positive opinion about Thunderbird graduates, and if the partnership makes my career search any easier.”
Dani Djamal, MBA’13

“I do think people should stop arguing about the move to be associated with a for-profit institution. This decision seems to directed where the market is going and if we don’t adapt, we’ll go obsolete. Also, it seems that many alumni are applying the stigma about for-profit businesses and business people being all about making profits regardless of the consequences – I think it’s disappointing to hear that even business students educated like us feel that way. I hope people stop arguing and start working together to improve Thunderbird.”
Anonymous, MBA’14


Join us for the Student Town Hall on Tuesday, September 17th at 1:00 p.m in the TEC. Dr. Penley will discuss Thunderbird’s vision for the future and will leave time for questions and conversation. Learn more about the alliance here: alliance.thunderbird.edu/

4 thoughts on “What do YOU think about the Laureate partnership?

  1. I think the alliance will have its growing pains. The ink is dry now. We have to play nice in the sandbox. I think the two giants in their figurative worlds can work really nice together. Each has their own strengths and weaknesses that each will work to resolve. Its important that our reputation stay high and that we achieve ever higher goals going forward. Since when do T-Birds take the easy way out? Never!!! We always prevail!!

  2. Can the Student Town Hall Meeting on Tuesday, September 17 be recorded for the OD students?
    I think we, as students and alumni, deserve a lot more information regarding the details of the partnership and the forthcoming changes to be expected. For example, who will be controlling the Marketing Department? From my limited knowledge regarding the partnership, I’ve heard marketing for Thunderbird would not be run by Thunderbird anymore but instead by Laureate decision makers with Laureate’s interests taking precedence? As a result of majorly important details not yet known or being openly shared with the students and alumni, I feel as though we’re debilitated. We are intelligent, influential, passionate, and successful people who believe in (and are investing huge amounts to) Thunderbird. We, therefore, deserve to know every detail being discussed at this stage so we can develop our stance and actions based on what we think is best for our school and our futures. The partnership has not yet come to pass so the timing is crucial for us to be informed at every level, as this decision significantly impacts every one of us.
    The proposed partnership is so controversial that loyal-to-Thunderbird people have resigned or are intending to resign from our school. These are people with greater access to the details and who have higher levels of expertise in the risks vs benefits vs alternative options that we are facing. Granted, there are supporters voicing their opinions as well. Regardless, it is disheartening to witness such division. It signals a Red Flag.
    Thunderbird, please proceed with prudence and counsel from all sides. Please enable us by delivering the full and detailed 360-degree-picture that is available to the decision makers at current, including the concerns and alternatives being proposed by alumni groups around the world. We are all part of this decision and this school.
    I have no doubt my cohort (T-bird family) and I will continue the legacy of Thunderbird Alumni across the globe. And I have no doubt we will stand up for what is best for Thunderbird.

  3. Would the school allow a town hall intended to share with the students the primary counter-points to the Laureate deal? For the sake of transparency and due process, the opportunity for those that have dug deeper into Laureate’s business practices and uncovered how they actually operate should be allowed.

    Or will the administration continue to mislead constituents about the deal as they have to date and trying to prevent all other communication channels.

  4. You might want to report on the large revolt by the alumni leadership with the entire Thunderbird Alumni Network Board, which resigned in protest to not only the Laureate deal, but in the way that it has been mishandled by the Thunderbird. I, as a Dallas-Ft. Worth chapter leader, am hearing a lot of discontentment and wonderment as to why we got into such a financial hole without being told by the school. A mass appeal for funds to rescue the school may have been a diplomatically smarter first choice. Then, if not met, move forward with a partnership. Now I wonder, will future donations to Thunderbird be purely for Thunderbird, or co-mingled with Laureate’s accounts?

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