Thunderbird rallies support for new global headquarters

By

Jonathan Ward

Thunderbird School of Global Management, a unit of the Arizona State University Enterprise, completed this past fiscal year 2020 by raising over $15,000,000 toward the construction of Thunderbird Global Headquarters, which broke ground in October 2019.

In total, Thunderbird has experienced a renewed commitment from alumni and partners, raising over $30,000,000 in philanthropic support since Sanjeev Khagram’s arrival as dean and director general of Thunderbird in 2018.

Thunderbird Global Headquarters is made possible by the investment of ASU, the city of Phoenix and private support. The new headquarters, located at First and Polk streets, is next to ASU's Beus Center for Law and Society, home of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law.

Thunderbird's new five-story building will cover 110,000 square feet and include the Global Forum, providing adaptable, multipurpose event space and an LED globe that connects all members of the school's global network via live social media updates; an Innovation Lab, serving as the hub of experiential activity for students with offerings such as a VR/AR technology-enhanced Language Lab; global heritage lounges celebrating various regions and the school’s history; and on the roof, the "Pub" — an icon from the school’s early days.

Just as Lieutenant General Barton Kyle Yount, Thunderbird’s first president, did in 1946, the school sought the support of a small group of leaders, New Founders, to make this next chapter for Thunderbird possible. The New Founders are a group of visionaries who have come forward with gifts that include $1 million for which they will be recognized as a New Founder of Thunderbird’s Global Headquarters.

“The school is thriving without having a permanent physical point. The Global Headquarters will provide a real burst of energy. We're resilient without it, but once we have a beautiful and very functional space to have classes, to bring the people together in the Global Forum, to carry amazing discussions at the new Pub, it will be fantastic for our community. It will be a portal for people to come to know Thunderbird and the world,” said New Founder Ken Valvur, a Thunderbird alumnus ’88.

In addition to the contributions of the New Founders, Thunderbird also launched a crowdfunding campaign in June for alumni and friends of the school to leave their mark on such a beloved landmark.

“I’m happy to contribute to the Pub campaign because to me the Pub is where so many T-birds experienced the magic of the Thunderbird mystique!" said Gbemi Disu, ’06. "My hope is that every member of our global alumni family joins the fundraising effort so that future T-birds can carry our Thursday night tradition and create wonderful memories with their classmates.” 

Thunderbird Global Headquarters will be the third home for the school, which launched in 1946 at a decommissioned airfield in Glendale that had been used to train pilots during World War II. In 2014, Thunderbird officially became part of ASU, and in 2018, moved from the Glendale campus to temporary quarters in downtown Phoenix, right next door to the site of the new building.  

Thunderbird Global Headquarters plans to celebrate its grand opening in November 2021.

Watch a live video stream of construction and a virtual video flythrough of the building’s features, and find more information about the Pub campaign.