Skip to main content

ASU announces move of Thunderbird to Downtown Phoenix campus

Plans for new downtown Phoenix facility for international management school unveiled; historic Glendale campus will be converted

Artist rendering of new Thunderbird building downtown
December 12, 2017

Editor's note: This story is being highlighted in ASU Now's year in review. To read more top stories from 2017, click here.

As part of its continued commitment to the Thunderbird School of Global Management, Arizona State University announced today the relocation of the iconic school’s graduate programs, and the Thunderbird Executive Education program, to a new building on its Downtown Phoenix campus.

This geographic move reflects the strategic importance ASU places on Thunderbird and its role in the university’s global vision. It represents a significant investment in the school’s continued excellence long into the future.

“Locating Thunderbird with other ASU schools and departments on the Downtown Phoenix campus will provide greater community embeddedness and enhanced resources for Thunderbird students and faculty,” ASU President Michael M. Crow said. “This move also brings Thunderbird closer to other university schools and departments and to the private- and public-sector forces in downtown Phoenix that are engaged in international business and nonprofit organizational activity.”

Allen Morrison, CEO and director general of Thunderbird, who has led the school since its merger with ASU in 2014, called the move “an exciting new chapter in the history of a transformational institution.”

“This is an incredible opportunity for Thunderbird to broaden its mission and have an even greater impact on students and the businesses and organizations with which the school partners,” Morrison said. 

Artist rendering of new Thunderbird building downtown

A rendering shows the future Thunderbird School of Global Management building on the Downtown Phoenix campus, just north of Polk Street and between First and Second streets. The Beus Center for Law and Society is seen on the left. Image courtesy of Jones Studio

Thunderbird’s new building on ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus will be between First and Second streets, just north of Polk Street. It will be the sixth ASU college headquartered on the Downtown Phoenix campus, joining the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, the College of Nursing and Health Innovation, the College of Health Solutions and the College of Public Service and Community Solutions.

“This is an exciting and important moment for the entire region,” Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said. “Thunderbird’s presence downtown will continue to enhance our competitiveness as we build an economy that competes on a global scale.”

An exciting future for the existing campus

ASU Enterprise Partners, a not-for-profit organization, has initiated discussions with Glendale officials to discuss the creation of a new master plan for the 140-acre site at 59th Avenue and Greenway Road.

These planning efforts will be designed to catalyze economic development in the West Valley and accelerate the pace of growth and diversification of economic opportunity.

“What we really look forward to is the opportunity to work with the city and the community on their aspirations for the property,” said Rick Shangraw, the CEO of ASU Enterprise Partners.

The Thunderbird brand will remain connected to the West Valley. ASU’s West campus in Glendale is home to Thunderbird’s undergraduate program, the Thunderbird Academy.

“The city of Glendale has been a wonderful home for Thunderbird over the past 71 years,” Crow said. “We are making a commitment to Glendale and to the entire West Valley to utilize the Thunderbird campus for the benefit of the community.”

The evolution of Thunderbird

Since its inception in 1946, Thunderbird has focused exclusively on educating global leaders in the intricacies of international business and management. In early 2015, just after the university had merged with Thunderbird, Crow spoke of the importance of utilizing ASU’s scale to enhance what makes the school special.

“What you can expect from us is to get at this right away, to stabilize those things that need to be stabilized immediately and, upon stabilization, to begin strategic positioning of this institution in its partnership with ASU, and strategic positioning of ASU in its partnership with Thunderbird,” Crow said on Jan. 29 of that year.

The move to downtown Phoenix provides the opportunity to evaluate the curriculum in light of the interdisciplinary options now available through proximity to other ASU schools and colleges, while continuing to provide world-class global management and business education with a unique intercultural focus.

Thunderbird’s executive education program will launch a new and more robust model, with stronger administrative and disciplinary linkages to other ASU units, especially the colleges of law, engineering, journalism, design, health solutions, sustainability, and public service and community solutions.

“After careful evaluation and efforts over the past three years to consider alternatives, we believe this move will provide benefits for all involved,” Crow said. “Thunderbird has an enormous amount to offer to ASU, to the city of Phoenix, to statewide efforts in international trade, and to the world.”

Construction of Thunderbird’s new building is expected to be complete in time to welcome students by January 2021. The new building will include space for classrooms, meetings, enclave and office space and will include two levels for executive education. There will also be rooftop function space.

Top image: An artist rendering of the new Thunderbird School of Global Management building on the Downtown Phoenix campus. Image courtesy of Jones Studio

More University news


Woman standing at a site with remnants of an ancient building and mountains in the background

Anthropology PhD student's work highlights complexity of human identities, histories

Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2024 graduates. Tisa Loewen considers herself a nontraditional student. She is older than typical U.S. college students,…

Three people working with outdoor garden

New general studies requirements to better prepare ASU students for a changing world

Arizona State University has revamped its general studies requirements — the courses required of all students, regardless of major — to better reflect the interdisciplinary knowledge that students…

Portrait of Kaye Reed in an outdoor setting

ASU professor named AAAS Fellow

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the Science family of journals, has elected Kaye E. Reed from Arizona…