ACT Updates

The power of One Thunderbird

The vision of the ACT is to ENGAGE, BUILD, and LAUNCH programs and services to our worldwide Thunderbird network of over 40,000 alumni. We want to listen to you, the alumni network, and learn how ACT, together with Thunderbird, can serve this incredible network of alumni in meaningful ways. Please check back here often for updates on our progress and feel free to send your ideas and feedback to us at Also, if you haven’t already, please take a few minutes to complete the ACT alumni survey.

Thunderbird and ASU Alumni – First Contact

By Tony van der Hoek ’89, Alumni Council of Thunderbird  -  Atlanta, GA

Alumni Council of Thunderbird’s Tony van der Hoek,  ASU W.P. Carey ’87 & Thunderbird ‘89 and Atlanta’s ASU Alumni President Seth Deitchman ASU ‘99 met for a first introductory meeting on October 20, 2014. The meeting was scheduled for both to share experiences as chapter leaders and to discuss future opportunities with the upcoming merger. 

Seth and Tony found many areas of commonality and mutual opportunities to share resources, organization and communication alignment. They discussed how T-Birds tended to focus more on the business development and networking opportunities for the alumni, and ASU on the schools spirit, networking and social activities (e.g. ASU football games, baseball outings etc.). 

To this end, Atlanta ASU Alumni host “Moo-Mondays.” The first Monday of each month ASU Alumni gather at a local burger restaurant.  T-Bird alumni have their global First Tuesday, which is a social networking gathering hosted on the first Tuesday of each month in many cities around the world.

ASU PartnershipTony van der Hoek and Seth Deitchman’s inaugural meeting at Starbucks, which has recently announced a partnership with ASU that allows all of its employees to take ASU on-line courses for free.

The duo discussed collaborative opportunities, such as Atlanta ASU Alumni sponsoring a LinkedIn Development program for business professionals to learn how to leverage that platform to optimize their search. Tony invited some local T-Birds to attend the event held on Wednesday, October 22nd.  In addition, Atlanta ASU Alumni host networking events and would like to open those up to T-Birds.

Speaking events, a long tradition at T-Bird, were also discussed. Seth mentioned that some of the renowned ASU alumni working at companies in Atlanta, such as Delta, Coca-Cola and UPS, could host events.  Both alumni have members at these great companies and could explore ways to co-present to the alumni community at large. 

Another area of interest, which continues to be a high priority for T-Bird Alumni, is to further engage the alumni in distance learning, lifetime learning and updates from the respective schools as well as the university. Tony referenced ASU’s School of Sustainability as one area of interest for global alumni. Seth also would like to see more opportunities for alumni to participate in continual learning and was eager for us to market such events together.  

Tony shared T-Bird’s mobile app and its broad functionality. Seth said that ASU does not have something like this at present, but hoped that the school would build something sustainable for the entire ASU alumni community. Some features of the app include the ability to receive alumni news, find alumni in one’s geographic proximity and search for alumni. 

Over the coming months, Seth and Tony plan to continue to collaborate together, introduce local chapter leaders of both entities and grow our understanding of each other’s alumni organizations and their needs and desire.  The future looks very bright to both!

Thunderbird Alumni Strategy: Vision 2015

by Joy Lubeck, ’86, President, Alumni Council of Thunderbird

The Thunderbird Alumni Relations Office (ARO) and the Alumni Council of Thunderbird (ACT) are actively engaged with our Thunderbird chapter leaders  regarding our go-forward strategy.  At this time we have already met one on one and received feedback from the following chapters:   London, Phoenix, Atlanta, New York, Sao Paolo, Washington DC, South Florida, Silicon Valley, with more chapter leaders scheduled in the coming weeks.

The feedback from our chapter leaders is being integrated into our draft strategic plan framework, that will serve as a starting document as we move into Vision 2015 as the 16th school at Arizona State University.

One of the top priorities is alumni re-engagement via our global alumni chapter network.  Critical to this goal is the expanded development and support of our Thunderbird chapters and chapter leadership, which Terri Nissen, Senior Director of Alumni Relations, shared on the October chapter leaders teleconference where over 35 chapter leaders participated.

Some chapters are building on this initial outreach effort by leading small focus groups to further invite the voice of our T-birds into the process.  Other chapters have distributed a short survey to better understand how the chapter leadership might add more value to its local alumni, now and in the future @ASU.

The interview is comprised of three sets of questions:

Current State:

1. What types of current programs and services are extended to your local alumni?

2. Is there a positive response to the various offerings?

3. What are the opportunities for improvement?

4. What are your top challenges to date?


Future State: Thunderbird as a separate alumni group @ ASU

1. What are the exclusive future programs and services your chapter would want to prioritize for only Tbirds?

2. What might be some of the success metrics to which you would aspire?

3. What type of support might you need from Thunderbird and ASU?


Future State: Thunderbird and ASU, in partnership and collaboration

1. What might you and your local alumni constituency see as opportunities for collaboration with ASU and its other schools and institutes (e.g. School of Sustainability, W.P. Carey School of Business, Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law, Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering, Institute of Supply Management, etc.)? 

2. What programs might Thunderbird chapters offer our new-founded ASU partners?

3. What might ASU offer Thunderbird alumni that would be of interest?

4. What would success metrics be?


Already our chapter leaders have provided great insights from which we will co- build the Thunderbird Alumni Relations strategy.  Feedback will continue to be collected and shared with our Thunderbird global alumni community, so please stay tuned.  And when the timing is appropriate, Thunderbird will share its vision and goals with ASU leadership in the spirit of evolving our promising future together. 

In closing, we want to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their participation and support as we move into a very exciting and historical time for our alma mater, Thunderbird School of Global Management.

Reflections from a T-bird/ASU alumnus

By Tony van der Hoek ’89, Alumni Council of Thunderbird

As we begin the historic journey of integrating the Thunderbird alumni community with the ASU alumni organization, I would like us to consider the magnitude of this opportunity. As both an ASU and Thunderbird alumnus, I will only touch on some things to consider from our own Thunderbird heritage, but there are many more ideas that we will want to explore. 

T-bird First Tuesdays

This has long been the foundation of our networking around the world. Suddenly, we will be able to invite more alumni members to these events. But now the conversation may change. Consider how we may continue to have a global dialogue and perspective, but welcome them to join us. Expanding our networking will revitalize us even more. As an example, 150 ASU EMBA students just graduated this year in Shanghai. 

ASU events

Much of the more visible ASU activities revolve around enjoying sporting events for the Sun Devils, and their professional sports graduates. Just recently, I was invited by the local ASU alumni chapter to a Braves vs. Oakland A’s game, where one of the A’s players is a Sun Devil graduate. What great times can we share together in the future? New friends, new networks and an expanded social life… doesn’t sound too bad? 

ASU also organizes an impressive number of campus visits, conferences and promotions of the university’s capabilities from its collection of colleges, schools and institutes. Those assets will now include Thunderbird – the best Global Management School on the planet. How can we collaborate with them to learn how we are stronger together, to the outside world? More combined degrees, distance learning and the like? ASU alumni host “send-offs” of entering students to the school. Should we attend and share with Thunderbird entering students our best wishes, guidance and mentoring support? 

We have Super First Tuesdays, where chapters are encouraged to invite prospective students to meet with alumni. Could we collaborate with the W.P. Carey business school or the Sustainability institute or one of the other schools under the ASU umbrella with this type of activity? 

Expanding Diversity

We need to recognize that ASU alumni will not only be from the W.P. Carey School of Business, but will also be from the schools of Engineering, Sustainability, Nursing, etc. What entrepreneurial and business activities common to Thunderbird alumni would be great opportunities for networking and collaboration with them?  What opportunities do we offer them? As Thunderbird grows and fuses with ASU, the new T-bird graduates will have a master’s degree in global management, but perhaps a minor in sustainability, engineering, media communications, etc. Their backgrounds, experience and focus will be something for us to proudly embrace. Thunderbirds will look different in terms of specialty and experience in the future. What can we do to leverage these new opportunities for greater diversity?

Continual Learning and Faculty Engagement

At many T-bird alumni chapters around the world, we have strived over the years to host faculty and school administration events, hold panel discussions, welcome keynote speakers, and facilitate opportunities for alumni networking. I would believe that we would continue to offer all of these thought leadership activities, but for even larger audiences. Perhaps ASU alumni would like to co-host or co-sponsor such events? They certainly have leading faculty and business practitioners in their fields of expertise who could speak to us and expand our own view of the world we live in. 

Faculty learning programs and executive education will be positively impacted by future collaborations among the ASU schools. Now, imagine the skills that you would like to enhance. Does ASU have those courses for you? Would you sign-up for an online program/course to refine your social media skills from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, for example? Would the faculty participate in local chapter events? 

Global Reunions

It has long been a tradition for Thunderbirds to gather together for special weekends around the world. What happens if we collaborate with our new ASU alumni colleagues and expand our global reunions to more locations? With our combined faculty and reach into the business world, imagine now what these reunions could become.

So, after all of this, I must say I am extremely enthused about what we are today, and what the opportunities are for us tomorrow. The Thunderbird we know will change. The school will be harder to get into, ranked higher in global educational rankings with the best ever rugby team (sorry, I was a T-bird rugby captain so have to throw that out there). Thunderbird alumni will be viewed as the best and most engaging and intellectually savvy on the cutting edge of the world… Wow, what a T-bird alumni community we will be! Please join my fellow ACT members in the dialogue about how we can get there together – as One.

ACT strategy for the Thunderbird Alumni Network

By David Wittenberg ’93, ACT Strategic Planning Committee Chair

Thunderbird’s most remarkable asset, our alumni network of over 40,000 globally minded graduates, is poised for unprecedented growth and development. Since the Alumni Council of Thunderbird (ACT) was formed last year, we have been taking the pulse of the alumni and working closely with the Alumni Relations Office (ARO) to understand where the alumni want to go and how to get there. We learned that T-bird alumni want two things most of all: first, to boost Thunderbird’s brand value and second, to connect with other alumni. 

ACT, the leadership team of the Thunderbird alumni network, has already launched a number of activities, such as monthly chapter leader conference calls. Some other plans have been held back by the school’s financial limitations and by the need to await completion of the merger with Arizona State University (ASU). ACT is using this period of transition to strategize and plan for the exciting future that we anticipate.

To assure that alumni continue to benefit from Thunderbird’s reputation as the leading graduate school for global management, ACT will continue to inform Thunderbird’s negotiating team about the desires of alumni regarding the things that make our school distinctive and valuable. We are addressing both the academic side of the school — advocating high admissions standards and a truly global curriculum – as well as the key alumni areas of interest – preserving the “Thunderbird mystique” and the way that the alumni network can be structured for maximum effectiveness. 

Thunderbird’s reputation will reach its greatest heights when employers reward graduates with responsible positions and high salaries. ACT and the ARO are involving alumni in recruiting prospective students and in coaching current students to make sure that each new Thunderbird is a credit to the school. We have recently seen enhanced career services for alumni, and we look to expand those efforts with ASU. 

Our strategy for improving connections between alumni touches numerous points. Through our One Thunderbird initiative, we have met, spoken with and corresponded with hundreds of alumni from various backgrounds, regions and points of view to bring all alumni together for the good of the school.

Much of our strategy is focused on our alumni chapters. Through the new platform of monthly conference calls, we are providing our chapter leaders with input and support to build engagement and participation in chapter activities.  Through this process, our chapter leaders have had unprecedented access to representatives of the board of trustees and the school as well as an opportunity to participate in a call with the ASU President, Dr. Crow, back in July.

Following the success of the recent European reunion in Dubrovnik, ACT is working to increase the school’s support for future alumni reunions. New regional gatherings for chapter leaders have also been added to the development agenda. 

ACT’s communications committee and alumni services committee have already contributed to fostering connections through regular alumni digests, timely information on the Thunderbird web site and an improved mobile phone application. We will continue to develop and expand alumni communications to boost engagement. Additional benefits and services are also being researched as we will benefit from the resources of the ASU alumni organization once the deal is closed in December. 

While some uncertainty remains about the next chapter in the history of our alumni network, ACT believes that we will see increased resources, an influx of new members, an array of new networking opportunities, and a series of positive developments that will enhance the value of the Thunderbird brand. We expect to see alumni engaged, active, and receiving more benefit than ever from the Thunderbird global alumni network.

The strategy of the Thunderbird alumni community is your strategy. The members of ACT are committed to harnessing the power of our unique community for the benefit of all alumni and our school, the Thunderbird School of Global Management. Your input, questions and opinions are always welcome. Please feel free to contact us at 

I believe that we can create a better world!

By Anthony J. van der Hoek ’89, Alumni Council of Thunderbird

Change is an inevitable thing in life; it is life itself…

In my tenure on the Thunderbird Global Council (TGC), we had a great deal of debate about changing the curriculum and delivery methods for the Thunderbird degree programs. One of the major changes was the shift from the Master of International Management (MIM) to a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Some students and some alumni were upset and said that it would make us just the same as everyone else, that we would be copycats, following what others have and thus not differentiated… and that it would impact the brand of the school and our ranking. And yet, the change was made and many alumni chose to change their degrees from MIM to MBA. I did not.

Then the administration came with another change: adding e-learning, online courses, etc. Again some alumni and students said that it would detract from the MIM that was being delivered… Students and some alumni were not sure that e-learning was good for the program or the institution. Maybe people would get us confused with the University of Phoenix. I voted for e-learning and the online Global MBA. Well, as it happens, T-Bird e-learning programs have been incredibly successful… as we all know.

Then the administration brought to the TGC another idea: to expand our offerings. We then debated adding the Master of Science (MS) and the Master of Arts (MA) degrees; and again we had some students and alumni complain that these too would detract from the strength of the T-Bird MBA. Well; we all know the story there. The school was not negatively impacted, but again maybe you can imagine how some of the students and some alumni said don’t change… it will hurt my degree and the reputation of the school.

Suffice to say, none of the negatives happened. The school has been ranked #1 in International Master’s Programs in the United States for some 15 years straight. What I would conclude is that the brand of the school and its reputation are stronger than the individual nuances of changing a course or the name of a course. It matters who hires our students, who thinks the education is worth a #1 ranking, etc.

Students, and perhaps our international students mostly, may worry that, when they return to their country with a degree from an institution that is no longer a stand-alone institution, their degree will drastically decrease in value and that will impact both their own employability and the school’s brand. I have never had an employer say “that degree that you got changed names and is now different or is part of something else… Why? What happened?” They simply aren’t that concerned. We think it’s a big deal because… well, I am not quite sure… but the world outside of Thunderbird is not that fickle. They will say “Oh, you went to that great school Thunderbird, and you got a degree from the #1 Global School of Business Leaders… that’s great,” and then move on to another subject more in line with your skills.

Some of you may feel betrayed by the school, since from a “customer’s perspective” all of these changes aren’t what you signed up for. People may argue that if they wanted an Arizona State University (ASU) MBA degree, they could’ve gone there for a cheaper price, and a different kind of education. I may have a different perspective on this than most, as I have an MBA from the W.P. Carey School of Business at ASU and an MIM from Thunderbird. I gained from both of my experiences. One thing that everyone at Thunderbird still agrees upon is that once you share in its rich history you gain some of the Thunderbird mystique and spirit. We are all proud to be T-birds, and most people are happy with their decision to join the Thunderbird community.

Remember that students and alumni who went to Northwestern School of Business actually say correctly that they went to Kellogg, and those who went to the University of Pennsylvania to Wharton. That’s what we will be: Thunderbird School of Global Management at ASU… and we will keep the mystique, the oath, and all be part of One Thunderbird.

ASU President Dr. Michael Crow is going to take the foundations of what Thunderbird is and make it better, stronger and more inclusive than we could on our own. He is renowned for his innovation and growth. Our beloved institution will not only be merged into a great university, but it will be allowed to flourish like never before.

What are our students, faculty, staff and alumni enduring? We are enduring change; for our current students, this will be a life-long lesson in how to adapt to change… Some are questioning “who moved my cheese” and the old way was better… I tell you this, the world hires T-birds because of our intellect, our skills in managing different cultures, our flexibility, our ability to work in adverse conditions, and our passion that we believe that we can make this a better world. This experience, beyond your classes, will prepare you well to either weather change or lead change in your careers. I have always strived to lead the change… In your leadership roles as members of One Thunderbird, you can too. Help those around you to take positive steps forward and recognize that in the future Thunderbird will be ranked higher, will be harder to get into and will be respected more than it is today. 

I do not say that the road will be easy, for it will not, but we must fight to make it and the world a better place.

I believe that we can win.

I believe that we can make a better world.

What can we do now for our new and graduating students?

By Nona Niner ‘81, ACT Vice President 

Over the past months and weeks, ACT has been reaching out to our Thunderbird Student Government (TSG) leaders to get a pulse on their issues, concerns and needs. Just this past week, Joy Lubeck, ACT President, had the pleasure of welcoming 132 new students to Thunderbird for the fall semester at their Foundations class and congratulating and welcoming our 64 graduating students representing 19 countries at commencement as they join the Thunderbird alumni network. In both encounters, she was inspired by the enthusiasm and passion of the students to fully embrace the possibilities as they set out on their new journeys.

During this period while the integration of the Thunderbird School of Global Management into Arizona State University (ASU) is agreed and approved, we ask ourselves who has the greatest need for our focus and guidance – our students! Both our recently graduated students and particularly our new and incoming students are witnessing great change with this merger. This provides a unique opportunity to be part of this next chapter in the history of Thunderbird, but also naturally brings with it some trepidation about the impact of this substantive change on their course of study and their job prospects.

We call on our Thunderbird alumni to embrace our current and graduating students and provide them a “lifeline” as mentors and supporters. What can you do? Here are some ideas:

  • Take some time to respond to students or graduates reaching out for guidance or informational interviews
  • Connect students with contacts in your personal and professional network
  • Provide informal mentoring to students and new graduates as they determine their next career steps (contact Michael Seaver at
  • Consider hiring a Thunderbird graduate and post job openings with the Career Management Center (contact Employer Relations at
  • Introduce yourself to a current student or recent graduate at a T-bird First Tuesday
  • Be a guest speaker for a Thunderbird class in your area of expertise

The impact of tangible actions in the spirit of One Thunderbird cannot be underestimated. If you would like to do more, please contact Michael Seaver at

We think that the new President of the TSG, Fiona Teerlink ‘14, summed it up the best: “During my Foundations session, one of our speakers said that we graduate into the Thunderbird community, not out of it. Whether someone graduated 20 years ago, whether we graduate now or whether we graduate in a year when Thunderbird is part of ASU, we have always been and we will always be united in one critical thing: we are all T-birds.”

ACT President welcomes incoming T-birds

What follows is the transcript from the welcome speech given by ACT President Joy Lubeck ‘86 at the fall 2014 Foundations

Good Morning and welcome to Thunderbird School of Global Management!

My name is Joy Lubeck; class of ’86 Thunderbird alumna, and President of ACT— the Alumni Council of Thunderbird, a representative body comprised of alumni volunteers, around the world, established to serve the global alumni community; and dedicated to the proposition of working alongside the School’s administration, Board of Trustees, and all key stakeholders, to uphold the vision of  ‘One Thunderbird.’

It is my privilege to be here today, to meet you for the first time, and to welcome you all into the Thunderbird ‘family.’ I have been involved with Thunderbird in many roles for many years, both as a member of staff, and now as a volunteer alumni leader… and I am as passionate about our mission, vision and values now, as I was when I decided to become a T-bird student back in the 80’s!

I had a life-long dream… to attend Thunderbird. The time arrived for me, when my husband and I relocated from Chicago, Illinois, to Milan, Italy, and finally we were relocated to Phoenix, AZ! I was so exhilarated to fulfill my dream, my passion. We started our family at that time, and I graduated with two sons, 3 years and 7 months old respectively. And I’m pleased to note that my eldest son followed in my footsteps and earned his Thunderbird degree in 2010. A very proud moment for me.

At the time I attended Thunderbird, I wasn’t as aware of our higher mission and calling, but as soon as I began my Thunderbird experience, I realized it was far more than just earning an MIM (the Master in International Management)—a tripartite curriculum that wove international business, languages and international studies in such an amazing and relevant manner.I realized that I had truly  come ‘home.’ I didn’t have to explain myself to my fellow students and faculty. They all came to this fine academic institution for the same reasons. Whether you call it the Thunderbird ‘mystique’ or the Thunderbird Global Mindset… our reasons for being here, then and now, are quite simple: We either had an amazing love of the world first, and wanted to apply best practices in global business education to that love; OR we came here as business people who wanted to learn more about languages and cultures as we realized the world is now global!

We were and you are insatiable and curious! T-birds are as comfortable in a board room as we are rafting down a river, or attempting zip-lining for the first time. We are resourceful, adaptable and entrepreneurial, as well as collaborative and supportive of one another. We get the job done!

By now, you may realize that Thunderbird was originally an air force base… and I’m certain you’ve seen the “Tower.” Back in the day, the planes landed in the field directly in front of the tower. Our first students had served the US military, mainly from the Air Force, and came to study international business, as they saw an opportunity to create value and peace, through business, but from afar. They had the same curiosity for languages, cultures and international travel that you have today. Our earliest graduates hopped steamers headed for Latin America, and were early adopters to the development of MNCs. We are so thankful to our founders for understanding the need to create peace through trade. One quote you will hear often comes from General Barton Kyle Yount, Jr.: “Borders frequented by trade seldom need soldiers.” And today, our mission remains constant: “We educate global leaders who create sustainable prosperity worldwide.”

So, as we reflect on 67 years of Thunderbird history, we have experienced much change and shift in our world. And today, the world hasn’t stopped changing. In fact, the pace just accelerates faster and faster. And you will all need to learn how to adapt to the change, embrace the change and lead through change. This is your time, your opportunity! You all find yourselves coming in as students in a time of great excitement and opportunity, and yes, perhaps even uncertainty, given the impending merger with Thunderbird and Arizona State University. However, you have this time to immediately apply your global business education to a new height… one perhaps you didn’t foresee, but if embraced full-on, this time in Thunderbird’s history could be one of the best experiences in your lives to date and could serve you very well as future global leaders.

I wanted to reach out to you today to talk to you about how the alumni network can help you along your journey. The Alumni Council of Thunderbird, together with the Alumni Relations Office, our fellow colleagues, staff, faculty and administration, and Board of Trustees want to assure you that we are committed to standing by you all along the way of this historical and momentous transition in Thunderbird’s history. There are 40,000+ alumni, alumni chapter leaders, members of ACT and Thunderbird Global Council who would like to extend our hand and serve as your mentors and guides as we travel this bumpy road together. You are part of our Thunderbird family. Our relationship building starts now! ACT is also working very closely with your Thunderbird Student Government leaders, our staff and administration, to further develop a mentoring program that will help you all along your journey here as a T-bird student. Please do let us know what questions you might have. Reflect and share with your TSG leaders, Fiona Teerlink, President and Tom Yu, VP, who are committed to listening to you and collaborating with you.

In closing, I encourage you to embrace this new world:

  1. Ask the right questions – ask with humility and never wear your degree or brilliance on your sleeve.
  2. Listen well – absorb all the knowledge which helps crystallise ideas… our faculty and your fellow students are a source of great knowledge and inspiration.
  3. Actively Seek feedback and gain multiple view points for any given set of problems.
  4. Identify roadblocks along the way; but also be part of creating solutions!
  5. Continue to learn how to relate to and communicate with people… it’s a critical leadership skill!
  6. Continue your educational journey in peace, and with courage in order to maximize your effectiveness as Thunderbird global leaders.

ACT and the global alumni community are by your side… as are your staff and faculty, administration and Board of Trustees. We are the Thunderbird network… We need to own it! If not us, who? If not now, when? We are ONE THUNDERBIRD!

I look forward to meeting you all in due course!

Good luck on your new T-bird adventure!

A personal video message from ASU’s President Crow

On July 21st, many of our chapter leaders, along with the Alumni Council of Thunderbird, were able to personally engage with President Crow on an exciting and interactive conference call. We were delighted with the opportunity to not only listen to his vision, but to ask questions. As many of you may recall, we subsequently shared the essence of this initial call through an all alumni communication.

In an effort to make sure our entire Thunderbird alumni community can directly hear from President Crow, he has offered to message us directly via the following video:

Please enjoy!


Alumni Council of Thunderbird (ACT)

Update on Meeting with the President of Arizona State University (ASU)

Last week, the ACT and Alumni Relations Office sponsored the third meeting with Chapter Leaders in the last two weeks, the purpose of which was to explore, discuss and clarify the partnership with ASU which is currently in the Letter of Intent (LOI) stage.  This week’s meeting was with Dr. Michael Crow, President of Arizona State University, who has led ASU’s  remarkable transformation and is widely regarded as one of the most visionary and innovative leaders in higher education.  

This third meeting with chapter leaders marked the first direct contact between ASU leadership and our alumni.  Dr. Crow wants to directly engage with our global alumni community and this will happen on a broader scale as the process develops.  More information will follow.  In the meantime, this and other communications from ACT will continue in an effort to keep you informed as we progress.

Chapter Leaders from all regions and all members of the ACT were represented, along with Joy Lubeck, ’86,  ACT President and meeting facilitator, ARO Director Terri Nissen,  President Larry Penley, Board of Trustees Chair Ann Iverson and Board of Trustees Alumni and Marketing Chair Kelly O’Dea, ’72,  in what can only be described as an engaging, open and enlightening exchange.

Dr. Crow’s inspiring opening remarks clearly set an exciting vision and tone for our pending partnership and the important role Thunderbird can play in achieving global impact and leadership as part of the ASU community.  Dr. Crow then addressed a broad range of questions put forward by chapter leaders and ACT members, in advance and during live exchange.  Following is a summary of salient points arising:

Vision for the Partnership 
One of the cornerstone goals of ASU is global impact in the fast changing world of higher education. Dr. Crow believes that Thunderbird epitomizes global leadership and regards Thunderbird as a key driver in achieving that goal.  This is a partnership founded on complementary vision, need and benefit for each institution.

Thunderbird will join ASU as a separate school in the community.  With our mission, brand and traditions intact, we will become Thunderbird School of Global Management at ASU.   This is a firm long- term commitment by Dr. Crow and ASU.

While separate, we will have full access to ASU’s massive resources in management expertise, technology, recruiting, placement, online delivery, innovation and access to sources for growth.  
We will also have open avenues to coordinate and collaborate with other neighbors in the ASU community, on multiple levels, to further enhance the global impact mission.

Dr. Crow characterized the mood at ASU as welcoming and complementary.  We are not replacing anything.  We are adding value and expertise.

Thunderbird alumni will not be simply folded into the ASU alumni association.  Like our school, our alumni association will be separate but integrated with ASU and will benefit from the strong ASU alumni resources to further enhance our association as both a personal and professional asset for all Thunderbird alumni.

ACT will collaborate and coordinate with the ASU Alumni Association leadership as the partnership process continues.

The ASU Board of Regents is the constitutionally-mandated and state-appointed, governing fiduciary of the public universities in Arizona, including ASU, and Thunderbird will merge into that structure.  Our equivalent Board of Trustees will therefore be disbanded.  As is the practice with other schools in the ASU community, Thunderbird will report to the University Provost on the strategy, planning, program quality, implementation and operation of the school.  Many of the schools at ASU have advisory boards drawn from the ranks of alumni and other interested outsiders who provide support and advice to the school’s leadership. The advisory structure will be determined in the coming weeks as we move through the LOI process.

Degrees and Programs
Consistent with our added value and complementary role in ASU, we will discontinue the MBA brand and focus on our famous legacy degree programs in global management, updated to address developments in the global education market.  

All future Thunderbird degrees will continue to come from Thunderbird, including any new degree programs we develop in the future.  In addition, there will be opportunities for future Thunderbird students to pursue dual degrees or to augment their Thunderbird degree program with additional learning opportunities.  Partnerships with other institutions could also be a possibility in the context of our mission and strategic needs.  This all points toward an enhanced learning experience for Thunderbird students and added attraction to incoming students interested in pursuing a global career.

Thunderbird Executive Education is regarded by ASU as a successful and significant differentiating strength of Thunderbird.  This business will receive considerable focus as a source of future growth and leadership.  The specific shape and structure of our continued executive education program will develop as part of the current LOI process.

Faculty and Staff 
A focus on applied learning will continue.  As we merge into ASU, we have undertaken a process to right size our current faculty and staff so that we enter into the community in an effective position to hit the ground running in our new neighborhood.  This is a requirement of merging into ASU and part of the change we must manage to create the path to future growth.  A substantial number of existing faculty and staff will be retained by ASU as part of this transition process to integrate both institutions.

ASU recognizes the special value of the Thunderbird campus.  There are no immediate implications regarding location in our current discussions and impending partnership with ASU.  That said, keep in mind that we have often considered alternative and appropriate new locations for our campus as the cost of maintaining inefficient, aging legacy facilities has progressively increased over the years.  This could possibly be a consideration in the future but it is not now.  We must first stabilize before we consider this option.

In summary, we encourage you to google ASU and search the website at to gain a feel for this fast growing and vibrant institution that will be our new home.

The feedback on Dr. Crow’s transparent, open remarks and candid answers to our questions has been uniformly positive.  This new partnership offers great possibilities to Thunderbird as a runway for future growth.  That is something we all want for our beloved school.  We believe that the Thunderbird mystique will prosper and grow as we turn the page to an exciting new chapter in our amazing history.

Part of our strength and longevity as a global leader resides in our unity of purpose and our lifelong attachment to that special magic that makes us T-Birds.  One Thunderbird.

We will continue to update you on our progress.  In the meantime, please let us hear from you so we keep the dialogue going and the process moving in the right direction. 

Please email the ACT team at: or contact Terri Nissen, Sr. Director of Alumni Relations at:


Your ACT Team @ Thunderbird
Joy Lubeck, President, Glendale, AZ
Nona Niner, Vice President, New York, NY
David Wittenberg, Delhi, India
Jonathan Lutz, London, United Kingdom
Tony van der Hoek, Atlanta, GA
Baron Bruno, Los Angeles, CA
Gabe Frank, Sao Paolo, Brazil
Yohei Matsumura, Tokyo, Japan

Important Message from ACT

Dear Thunderbird Alumni, 

By now, you all have received the news that Thunderbird and Arizona State University (ASU) have signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) whereby Thunderbird would join the collection of colleges, schools and institutes which constitute ASU.  The Alumni Council of Thunderbird (ACT) supports the strategic intent of the LOI. This partnership has great benefits to both universities, linked by compatible missions and values. 

Your ACT will continue to be an integral part of continued alumni communication and engagement and we look forward to working together with our new partner to advance the interests of all Thunderbird alumni, current and future, as we create the next chapter of Thunderbird’s history.  

Now more than ever, we call upon Thunderbird alumni to join together to ensure the long-term sustainability of Thunderbird’s mission, vision and values which represent the Thunderbird brand. 

As a point of interest, please see link ( from the  July 9th editorial published in The Arizona Republic, with a favorable reaction to the merger.


The Alumni Council of Thunderbird (ACT)