Compiled by Amanda Cardini, Staff Writer. 

Thunderbird’s announcement to close the historical Glendale campus and move to downtown Phoenix has been met with diverse reactions by students and alumni. The move is said to provide Thunderbird with more opportunities for growth and updated technologies, but has been met with criticism by some who feel the campus is an integral part of Thunderbird’s culture. Giving voice to these opinions, seven T-birds shared their reactions to the announcement.

Bonnie Piper (MAGAM ‘19)

I’m personally excited for the opportunity to utilize the amenities in downtown. I know for many it’s an inconvenience, but I think it’s great that ASU is investing to renovate Thunderbird. Additionally, the location is more central to people who live across the Valley. My commute from Gilbert was just cut in half!

Marissa Garay (MAGAM ‘19)

Growing up hearing stories about Thunderbird (both of my parents were T-birds), its students, the Pub and its very unique “mystique” made me love the school before even becoming an actual T-bird myself. Now I can honestly say I am in love with this school. Since day one of Foundations, the Thunderbird experience has made me feel at home, surrounded by my international family. The small and warm campus that we love, knowing all the faces that cross your path, all of this will be gone. Nobody knows if this will be for the better but one can only hope that Thunderbird’s traditions and values will be respected.

But what is the rush? Why use a temporary space instead of letting the current students finish their degree in the campus they chose? It will be very sad to lose such a historic campus filled with wonderful memories. Please don’t let the T-bird identity be lost.

Mike Dugan (MGM ‘18)

Moving to downtown, although sad for all the history and memories, opens up tons of new doors for the school to capitalize. First is resources. ASU will be pouring in cutting edge technology (I assume) that will make the program smarter and more interconnected. Second, the move puts the school in a more centralized location for better access by students, which should help increase recruiting and engagement. Third, it better aligns Thunderbird’s teachings/speakers with the correct audience. The young professionals living in downtown Phoenix have more to gain than the older families of Glendale, giving us a better influence on the community of Phoenix when we invite the community to events and recruit locally. Lastly, I believe the approach we need to take moving forward as Thunderbirds comes straight from the MGM course, Managing People: Global Context. To paraphrase Dr. Peterson, to be a successful leader, you have to have a vision and a plan to execute that vision. Without those two, you are destined for mediocrity. Who’s to say we all can’t be the leaders of Thunderbird’s future?

Youfeng (Gloria) Pan (MGM ‘17)

Thunderbird’s fame of the world class business school wasn’t for its location in Glendale. If we can’t identify the real issues and solve them, we can’t win anywhere.

Isaac Miller (MAGAM ‘19)

I think the awesome design of campus as a Thunderbird and the great heritage at the campus needs to be integrated as much as possible into the new construction – which means we have to get our opinions out now. The blueprints are likely already drawn up. Who is getting to provide input on them? Is it TSG? Is it faculty? Is it Dr. Morrison?

That said, unless Thunderbird radically increases enrollment in the next few years, there would continue to be a drastic difference in the amount of money we’re taking in at this campus (which is probably in the negative numbers, given under enrollment, the empty campus store, the overwatered grass, and the ghost town of a hotel) versus what we could get if we sell the 180 acres of nearly undeveloped land. Bad financial practices are what got Thunderbird into being bought out by ASU in the first place – that and the fact that big institutions with big endowments started doing international business to compete with Thunderbird’s lower-funded standalone model. So why would we keep doing things that make a business school lose money? Further, I think our coursework is moving in the applied learning direction, which means we’ll be traveling more and doing more work internships for credit. Being closer to the airport and to local business can help us get more experience than Glendale can offer. Lastly, let’s hold them accountable and make sure that we’ll have a Pub, rugby, soccer, etc.

Thunderbird Alum, Scotttsdale (MBA ’13)

Moving is stressful, even for an individual. Not to mention this time we are moving our only home since Thunderbird was born. I’m not convinced this is a good decision and am very curious what the motivation behind it is. Upgraded facility and location are not what Thunderbird needed the most to become a top school again in the future.

Thunderbird Alum, Shanghai (MBA ’93)

I think the school lost a valuable opportunity to develop the campus into an international business incubator and think tank supported by Thunderbird, professors and alumni that could have provided valuable internships and working experience for current students.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *