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Timeline: Alliance builds on decades of global aspirations

A trimester abroad opened doors for Canadian entrepreneur Ken Valvur ’88, who launched a successful career in investment banking following his experience at Thunderbird’s former exchange site in Fujinomiya, Japan. “I was in this beautiful dorm room,” he says. “Every morning I would open the curtains and see Mount Fuji in front of me.”

Thunderbird has long recognized the value of operating year-round international campuses and exchange programs through a variety of alliances with other schools, governments and commercial enterprises. But maintaining permanent sites abroad has been a challenge. Thunderbird ran an exchange program with the Institute for International Studies and Training in Fujinomiya for 21 years before opening its own Thunderbird Japan Center in Tokyo in 1994. An exchange program and Thunderbird campus in Guadalajara, Mexico, ran for 24 years. And a campus in Archamps, France, served students for 13 years.

Thunderbird eventually closed or cut ties with all of these sites — along with others from Brazil to the Czech Republic — due to financial pressures. The school’s degree programs currently rely on temporary leased spaces for modules abroad, field seminars and interims. MBA students also may participate in a variety of exchanges during their final trimester. But no Thunderbird-branded campuses exist overseas for degree students.

The planned alliance with Laureate Education, Inc., will address this gap with a global network of Thunderbird outposts. It will be the school’s first attempt at overseas expansion with a global partner established on multiple continents. “We will be in the best position we have ever been in,” says Thunderbird President Larry Edward Penley, Ph.d. “For the first time in our history, we will have a truly global platform.”

Photo caption: A wall of clocks at the Center for Business Skills Development in Moscow, Russia, shows the times at Thunderbird’s three main locations. CBSD has delivered nondegree programs throughout Russia, Kazakhstan and other parts of the region since 1996 under the direction of Thunderbird Executive Education. Administrative offices in Geneva, Switzerland, serve corporate clients and Executive MBA Europe students, who attend most of their classes at the nearby Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies. The main site in Glendale, Arizona, is the only Thunderbird-branded campus with classroom space for degree students.

TIMELINE
A summary of Thunderbird’s major attempts at establishing international campuses, partnerships and exchanges. (Click image to open enlarged timeline in PDF format)
Exchange programs
1972: Thunderbird announces exchange programs and sister relationships in Colombia and South Korea.
1979: Thunderbird announces exchange agreements in United Kingdom and China.
1981: Thunderbird announces an agreement in Taiwan, along with continuing partnerships in China, Egypt, Japan, Mexico, Spain and United Kingdom.
1984-5: Thunderbird announces exchange programs in Belgium, France, Germany and Norway.
1994: Thunderbird announces an exchange agreement in Costa Rica.
Overseas bases
Japan (1973-1994): Fulltime students study in Fujinomiya through an exchange agreement with the Institute for International Studies and Training.
Japan (1994-2006): The partnership in Fujinomiya ends in 1994 when Thunderbird launches its own Thunderbird Japan Center in Tokyo.
Mexico (1981-2005): Fulltime students study in Guadalajara through an agreement with the Autonomous University of Guadalajara.
France (1993-2006): Thunderbird serves fulltime students and executive education clients through a partnership with the French Haute Savoie Region in Archamps, France.
Russia (1996-present): With initial support from U.S. Agency for International Development, Thunderbird acquires the Center for Business Skills Development in Moscow. The management training center delivers nondegree programs throughout Russia, Kazakhstan and other parts of the region under the direction of Thunderbird Executive Education.
Latin America (1998-present): Thunderbird partners with Tecnológico de Monterrey to offer the Global MBA for Latin American Managers. The dual degree program blends on-the-ground modules and interims with live satellite delivery to remote sites in Mexico and other parts of Latin America. Recruiting for the program is on hiatus.
Taiwan (2000-05): Thunderbird partners with the Acer Group to offer an Executive MBA program taught primarily at the Acer Aspire Academy in Taipei.
Brazil (2001-04): Thunderbird partners with the American Chamber of Commerce to offer an Executive MBA program in São Paulo.
Czech Republic (2003-08): Thunderbird partners with the Czech Management Center to offer an Executive MBA program and executive education services in Prague.
Switzerland (2006-present): Thunderbird moves it European base to Geneva. The site primarily serves executive education clients until 2010, when the school brings its Executive MBA Europe program to the site through a partnership with the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies. Recruiting for the degree program is on hiatus.

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