Merger Mania: November 2015 Town Hall Report

By Jessica Knutzon, Co-editor

The November 6 student town hall, hosted by Jay Thorne, Executive Director of Communications, addressed several student questions and concerns. Other staff members at the meeting included: Chelsea Oyen, Executive Director at the Office of the CEO & Director General; Joseph Carter, Associate Director General; and James Scott, Associate Vice President of Academic Compliance & Assessment. These staff members attended the meeting to supplement the answers to questions that fell within their expertise. There were a few student-submitted questions projected at the meeting and students in the room were able to ask questions as well.

Oyens announced that the Thunderbird Executive Leadership Council, which meant in October for its inaugural meeting, has put together a fund to focus on the student experience. There will be an application process for the student body to use money towards student events. There will be more details sent to students before classes start in January.

A student asked about how the Master of Arts in Global Affairs & Management (MAGAM) is being marketed because he feels that it is often compared to and combined with the Masters in Global Management (MGM) even though they are different programs. Companies are coming to campus to recruit MGM, not MAGAM. He expressed his experience in finding several companies looking for MAGAM students, but they are not receiving information from Thunderbird. Carter responded with some thoughts on differentiating the two programs that were not designed to be the same, and added that “your points are well taken and we will move in that direction.”

There was a question about opening up the Thunderbird Emerging Market Laboratory (TEM Lab) to other Arizona State University (ASU) students. Student teams that apply for future TEM Labs can include ASU students outside of Thunderbird. Thorne said that there are early discussions on expanding the TEM Lab experience to other programs within the university. To learn more about this change, click here to read on last week’s article addressing this topic. Carter shared that TEM Lab is not the only option for students seeking a similar experience, he added, “There are many other experiential practicum modalities that we’re developing.” A student shared that students are not being given any information on these upcoming experience and asked what students will have an opportunity to partake in next year. Carter discussed the curriculum process that these programs have to go through and that at the end of the semester there will be an entire portfolio of these experience and added, “Plan on it to occur after this academic year is done.” Carter shared details on some programs in the pipeline. There will be other experiential programs, but nothing has been announced officially.

There was a question regarding my.thunderbird.edu (MTB) and whether the website would continue to be updated. Teach-out students, and those before them, used MTB to find alumni but also each other’s contact information. Oyens shared that MTB will continue to exist, but it is being evaluated to see how it will be used in the future (i.e. an alumni database) and added, “the concept of MTB will continue but the platform that it is on is going to go away,” updating it from the old HTML language it exists under now. Once the Director of Alumni Relations is hired, the project to complete the MTB website transition will be a priority. Oyens reiterated the importance of MTB for alumni community. Current students are able to use their My ASU accounts to search for other students but do not have profiles on MTB. Oyens also shared that they are looking into a single login solution for the ASU and MTB websites.

Continuing on the topic of Thunderbird websites, a student submitted a question asking if the Thunderbird phone application will function in the future. Thorne expressed that as part of the web redesign project the phone application and making the website mobile friendly are high priorities. With this, Thorne explained that the marketing department is working diligently to update the external website and part of the external communication re-vamp, the phone application will be included in the process. A survey was circulated to students to give feedback on the current external website. The work will begin in the first quarter of next year.

In the last town hall there was a suggestion to add a student liaison position in the communications department to enhance information sharing. Thorne shared that he has had one meeting and expects to have more details about this position in the first quarter of next year.

During the previous town hall, Dr. Morrison, CEO and President of Thunderbird, shared that he has written 20 papers on mergers and acquisitions. Students submitted the questions asking where these papers can be found and how to access them. Thorne shared that Dr. Morrison has agreed to meet with students to show them his past work that includes books, chapters, and papers. Carter shared that most of his paper should be available on Google scholar. Students are encouraged to find a representative to talk to Morrison to help find his work on mergers and acquisitions.

There was a question asked about the faculty merger and acquisition task force this summer that was rejected. Thorne shared that there were not any rejected task forces, but instead there were task forces created.

One of the final questions was about the actions being taken to market Thunderbird and increase its ranking. Thorne shared a joint ASU-Thunderbird Financial Times advertisement published in early November. There will be challenges for rankings because of the transition because the program has not been in existence for enough time. There will be a focus on the executive education program rankings, which is doing well. The website redesign is a part of the broad Thunderbird brand marketing plan.

A student at town hall asked a question about the ASU professors that have been teaching first-year students, that while they are brilliant, their theoretic approach is not aligned with the experience-based approach that Thunderbird professors usually use to teach their courses. Carter acknowledged the issue, shared that it has been brought to light and there are discussions on how to ameliorate the situation. There may be training or coaching for incoming professors.

Thunderbird Student Government (TSG) provides minutes on all public meetings. There are more details about the town hall meeting available to all students. To read about this and other public meetings, please visit the TSG page on MTB.

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