First Friday Feedback: Strategic Alliance Updates and More

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Last week’s “First Friday Feedback” session was full of updates and specials guests.  Four board of trustee members were in attendance: Susan Stevens ’73, Ken Seward ’57, John Hendrickson and Chairwoman Ann Iverson. President Penley, and Professor Ram, President of the Faculty Senate, were also present for a productive discussion about three key issues on campus: Spring ’14 Class curriculum/TGE/Internship updates, Strategic Partner update and Career Center/job posting updates.

Strategic Partnership Updates

With the benefit of having four board members in the room and in light of the news earlier this week that Laureate partnership talks had officially been terminated,  the majority of the 90 minute feedback session was spent discussing next steps for the strategic alliance.   The conversation covered an array of topics related to the future of Thunderbird: how the Vision 2020 will be re-visited,  confirmation of the criteria for selecting a partner and the imperative need for transparency in their stakeholder communication strategy.  President Penley confirmed that the criteria identified in partnership selection in October of 2012 is still aligned with the criteria being used today: preserve the Thunderbird Brand, preserve the Thunderbird Mission and ensure financial sustainability to renew programs on campus.  These are the decisive criteria that a partnership agreement will be based on.  President Penley acknowledged that a partner with a global footprint is important, but it’s secondary.  The same goes for Executive Education and Vision 2020.  They are ideal but not absolute to finding the right partner for the school.  Chairwoman Iverson reiterated that the goal of the partnership is, and has always been, to maintain the core elements of the Thunderbird DNA and be financially sustainable.   It is no longer feasible to remain independent.  The partner selected will co-exist in the Thunderbird vision 2020, 2030 and beyond.  Chairwoman Iverson reiterated that the criteria for selecting the right partner has not changed.  The need for financial sustainability isn’t about keeping the lights on today, this month or even this year.  It’s about having growth capital to remain competitive in a fast changing environment and leap frog us to best in market.  In regards to a communication strategy, Chairman Iverson and President Penley acknowledged there was still more work to do on the communication and transparency of progress to the current students, internal staff and faculty.   They agreed to post status updates and a timeline of key dates and milestones and reflect when each step had been accomplished.  They reminded the attendees that everyone that is involved in the decision have signed NDAs with potential partners.  Chairman Iverson noted that seven faculty , nine Thunderbird Global Council (TGC) members and eight members of the newly founded Alumni Council of Thunderbird (ACT) are all advising on potential alliances.  Moving forward, the BOT is working to have one board member on campus each week to engage with students.  Next week, Jim McClung will be on campus and in the next few weeks, Kelly O’Dea ’72 and Michael Hecomovich ’97 are scheduled to be on campus.  More information will continue to be released on

Spring ’14 Class Updates

Paula Friesen presented options for students in the Spring ’14 intake to include a fall internship in their program.  This requires commitment to 58.5 credit program but there are two options for students to consider.  The scenarios provided can be found here, Spring14InternshipOptions.  As well,  Dr. Davison provided an update on the plausibility of the requested summer module abroad and is assuming it will move forward.  He is working with the key class members leading the initiative and reiterated that it looked promising.  25 students have committed and RFPs for arrangements in Prague, Milan and Istanbul have been sent out.  Responses to the RFP are not anticipated until after the Easter holiday for further consideration and discussion.  Lastly, Dr. Davison confirmed the curriculum will be moving back to 6 week courses beginning in the fall and 3 week courses will no longer be offered.

Career Center Updates

A concern regarding the restrictive filtering of Global Connect job was brought to the table.  There are many jobs listed that flag students as ineligible to apply  (when they are) or don’t show up at all.  Guy Groff acknowledge that the filters are tight and is working with the employee relations team to address any errors in the Global Connect filtering algorithms.  He reiterated the need for students to reach out if they feel they are qualified to apply for a listed job and the filter has taken them out–the CMC will review the job description and release the filter if a student is qualified.  As well, Guy mentioned the weekly newsletter with job listings that goes to all students should be referenced and used to determine job applications.  Lastly, it was decided that the CMC will begin reporting the percentage of students who land job offers and update it on a weekly basis.

Friday Feedback sessions are typically held the first Friday of every month from 11:30a-1p.

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