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Reflections from the Thunderbird Reunion in Dubrovnik, Croatia

By Nona Niner, Vice President, ACT

The magic of the Thunderbird mystique was alive and well in sunny Dubrovnik where members of the Thunderbird community came together to share some very special moments at the European reunion held June 12-15, 2014. In addition to the welcome barbeque, walking tour, folklore dinner, boat cruise and gala dinner, many alums enjoyed participating in the business forum where we listened to captivating speakers on a variety of topical subjects.

We were pleased to have members of the faculty and executive education join us at the reunion, as well as Dr. Larry Edward Penley, Ph.D., President, who shared with us some of the positive updates on the school, including higher job placement rates for recent graduates, record executive education revenue, a new, more flexible curriculum and the success of the Thunderbird Emerging Markets (TEM) Labs, Thunderbird for Good and SHARE programs. 

Our fellow alums were particularly interested in the update on Thunderbird delivered by one of our most famous alumni and Board of Trustees members at the post-forum luncheon. Kelly O’Dea ’72 provided a retrospective review of where the school has come from and the direction in which it is heading as Thunderbird seeks to reposition itself amid the seismic changes in both the business and graduate education landscapes. His “real talk” approach was appreciated by all and gave us some perspective for understanding the need for Thunderbird to find the right partner to advance our mission of educating global business leaders. 

I am sure that my fellow attendees would agree that one of the most touching and memorable moments of the reunion weekend was when Mary Teagarden, Ph.D., spoke as a featured guest at the Gala Dinner. She shared with us adventurous stories from her youth which prepared her well for her many years as a beloved professor at Thunderbird. She continues to represent the heart and soul of the Thunderbird faculty and we were so honored to have her and the other professors join us for this very special reunion. Thanks again to Dale Davidson, Ph.D., Paul Kinsinger and Karen Walch, Ph.D., for participating in the reunion and the business forum. 

Many thanks to the Dubrovnik Reunion Committee (John Cook ’79, Andrijana Čuljak ’99, Charles LaFond ’80, Yael Coifman ’94, Alka Uroda ’13, Terri Nissen, Alumni Relations Sr. Director and Silva Ušić from Atlas Travel) who organized fantastic events which allowed participants to catch up with old friends, meet new ones and connect with fellow business and academic professionals, all in the spectacular setting of this historic city. Special thanks to Kristen Jarchow, photographer/web master extraordinaire, who captured shared memorable moments throughout the reunion weekend. Hopefully you enjoyed the reunion vicariously through the T-bird social media posts!