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Khagram to step down as dean of ASU’s Thunderbird School

He will return to ASU faculty position, has accepted role as carbon removal lead with UN Climate Champions

Portrait of Sanjeev Khagram
August 11, 2023

Sanjeev Khagram, director general and dean of Arizona State University’s Thunderbird School of Global Management since 2018, has announced that he will be stepping down from that position at the end of the 2023–24 academic year. Khagram has decided to return to an ASU faculty position and has accepted a role as the carbon removal lead for the United Nations Climate Champions.

After succeeding Allen Morrison, who was hired as Thunderbird’s director general when the school became part of ASU before the start of the spring 2015 semester, Khagram shepherded the school’s transition to ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus from its 70-year-plus historic home on a former military airfield in Glendale. Khagram led the school through that nostalgically sensitive departure and was instrumental in the design of the new Thunderbird Global Headquarters in downtown Phoenix, as well as the fundraising for it and many of its high-tech features.

His leadership was pivotal in many areas as Thunderbird has recaptured the momentum that made it one of the premier global leadership and management schools in the world.

“Now nearly a decade since it became part of the university, Thunderbird has become truly integrated into the ASU family, and much of that is due to the work of Sanjeev Khagram,” said ASU Provost Nancy Gonzales. “As director general and dean, he has embraced ASU and has built partnerships with other colleges and units while continuing to build on Thunderbird’s traditions and unique offerings. His work has advanced connections on every level, not the least of which has been his work with Thunderbird’s global alumni network.”

Under Khagram’s leadership, Thunderbird was globally recognized as No. 1 in international trade, according to the 2023 QS International Trade Rankings, ahead of Cambridge, Stanford and Harvard, as well as regained its No. 1 ranking by Times Higher Education/Wall Street Journal for its Master of Global Management degree.

Since fall 2018, enrollment nearly doubled for the school’s flagship degree, the Master of Global Management, and internship placements tripled. During Khagram’s tenure and in an effort to expand access, Thunderbird also launched the Najafi 100 Million Learners Global Initiative with the objective of offering online, global education in 40 languages to learners across the globe at no cost.

Surrounded by a strong team that Khagram built during his tenure, including a new vice dean and deputy dean of executive education, Thunderbird has also stabilized and grown its alumni relationships through the creation of the Thunderbird Global Alumni Network. Leveraging those relationships and others during Khagram’s time of service, Thunderbird has opened regional Center of Excellence hubs around the world in 15 locations.

“Dean Khagram has been a dynamic force for change and advancement and leaves Thunderbird in a stronger position than when he arrived, building on the good work of his predecessor,” said ASU President Michael Crow. “ASU is committed to a global search for the next leader of the school who will continue the upward trajectory of Thunderbird and define new opportunities for international engagement and access to its unique educational offerings.”

Khagram will continue to serve as Thunderbird’s dean and director general until the global search for his successor has been finalized.

He previously has held faculty positions at the Harvard Business School and Kennedy School of Government, and at the University of Washington, where he was the founding director of the Marc Lindenberg Center for Humanitarian Action, International Development, and Global Citizenship. He completed his undergraduate, master's and doctoral degrees at Stanford University in economics, development studies, engineering and political economy.

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