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Thunderbird Alumni Formally Submit Big And Bold Proposal to Fund Thunderbird

Wednesday, March 26, 2014  
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For Immediate Release
March 26, 2014

Contact: Michael Anthony Scerbo
Phone: 602 615 6523


Thunderbird Alumni Formally Submit Big And Bold Proposal to Fund Thunderbird Global School of Management; Reform Board Of Trustees

(GLENDALE, Ariz.)  The Higher Learning Commission’s (HLC) denial of Thunderbird's Change of Control application for the Thunderbird-Laureate alliance has given the alumni a second chance to get the renowned business school’s future right, preserving its financial stability, reputation and mission.

On March 26, 2014, The Thunderbird Independent Alumni Association (TIAA) formally offered a lifeline that includes the financial means to allow the school to rebuild and restructure itself. The offer submitted from the TIAA to the Thunderbird Board of Trustees Chairwoman Ann Iverson states in part:

“The TIAA will contribute, through a trust fund supported by alumni donations, funds sufficient to cover the negative operating cash flow of Thunderbird for a period not to exceed 3 years, to enable the Board to consider and carefully evaluate potential partnerships and/or alliances with other public or non-profit institutions of higher education.”

Among the conditions of the TIAA agreement, the Thunderbird Board of Trustees must have a supermajority of alumni, and during the period of financial assistance, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees must be an individual who serves as a Trustee of the TIAA trust fund.

Concerned alumni formed the Thunderbird Independent Alumni Association ( in opposition to the Thunderbird/ Laureate alliance. The TIAA considered it an effort to leverage the Thunderbird brand and its hard-earned reputation in order to deepen the pockets of a for-profit institution.

Now that the Laureate alliance has been rejected, the goal is to guide Thunderbird out of its current financial crisis while ensuring its reputation and mission remain intact.

 “Before any further options for Thunderbird are reviewed, in a transparent manner, we must first bring the alumni, faculty and students back together in order to move forward as a single collective body to ensure the long-term sustainability of Thunderbird,” said Merle Hinrich ‘65 TIAA Board of Directors. 

The offer has provisions to ensure any future alliances are properly vetted. The offer reads:
“The Board of Trustees shall, upon reconstituting the Board consistent with the above changes, engage a professional firm to assist in the evaluation of prospective public or non­profit institutions as partners for Thunderbird, and to gather the input and collective opinion of all constituents of the school--faculty, students and alumni -- in an open and transparent process to ensure that all constituents of the school move forward together in the best interests of the future of Thunderbird as a top ranked international business management school.”

 “We will provide the financial stability, and therefore sufficient time, to evaluate potential solutions that include remaining independent or finding proper alternative partners. This may require from one to three years or more. We want to clarify that TIAA has no intention of purchasing the school, changing the educational programs or entering into a partnership with Thunderbird, in competition against potential proposals,” said another TIAA Board Member, Harry Cockrell ‘73.

The TIAA is making this offer to help the Thunderbird School of Global Management turn a page and ensure that future actions of the Board of Trustees respect the school’s six decade legacy of educating business leaders worldwide. This is also being done to preserve Thunderbird’s future legacy, the students who have enrolled or will enroll to what should be a world class institution.         

“The TIAA, on behalf of the entire alumni community, is working hard to ensure that Thunderbird emerges from this time of transition stronger than ever. To our alumni, I ask you to join our conversation, volunteer your time, help graduating students find a suitable job, and donate to the TIAA campaign. Together we will make our shared vision a reality,” continued Hinrich. 

For a copy of the TIAA offer please contact Michael Scerbo at

About the Thunderbird Independent Alumni Association

The Thunderbird Independent Alumni Association (TIAA, was created By Alumni, For Alumni to support Thunderbird alumni and build the #1 global alumni network.  The TIAA is a volunteer membership organization of dedicated alumni, investing in initiatives to nurture the Thunderbird alumni community, in order to promote peace, prosperity and goodwill globally through the continued expansion and enhancement of international trade and business.