Thunderbird board to set broader course for school
The Arizona Republic
Feb. 1, 2006
GLENDALE - Amid financial storm clouds, board members begin meetings today to
decide the future of Thunderbird, the Garvin School of International Management.
By Friday, Thunderbird's leadership will determine how the school will approach
corporate learning programs, a new full-time MBA curriculum and enhancement of
its presence regionally and globally.
Talk of these plans is familiar to Genevieve Gutierrez, a recent Thunderbird
graduate and former editor of the school's newspaper, Das Tor.
"All the changes it's making make smart business sense," said Gutierrez, 26, of
Casa Grande. "Coming from a student's point of view, maybe there should be more
The decisions are expected to arrive as the Glendale institution celebrates its
60th anniversary as a global business-management graduate school.
As one of the world's top-ranked institutions of its kind, Thunderbird has
reached its sixth decade of operation amid speculation that it faces financial
Administrators have said the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks were responsible
for an industrywide drop in demand for master's in business administration
In April 2004, Valley businessman Sam Garvin gave Thunderbird $60 million to
fund an endowment that would help cover the school's needs.
In recent months, school President Angel Cabrera has stressed that Thunderbird
must adjust to shifts in market demands, namely the decrease in people who are
willing to take time off work to pursue full time an MBA degree.
The school has proposed more rigorous entrance requirements, has made fluency in
a foreign language mandatory and offered more online-heavy learning options.
Suggestions have risen that the school is shopping for partnerships, in addition
to one with Indiana University, to act as a life preserver.
Cabrera and other administrators say the partnerships are intended only to
extend the Thunderbird brand into new student markets and are not an indicator
of infrastructure weakness.
"What we're trying to do is diversify the things we do, try to reach further and
offer the Thunderbird international management experience to people who would
not otherwise be able to have an experience at Thunderbird," Cabrera said in an
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