Future Thunderbird relocation draws praise


The relocation of the Thunderbird School of Global Management to Arizona State University’s Downtown Phoenix Campus has been met with excitement at its potential to continue to grow Phoenix’s economy, city and university officials said.

Officials believe the relocation will help the city build an international presence in addition to giving ASU’s Downtown Campus students more global opportunities.

“Thunderbird can help lead the way for the City of Phoenix,” said Bret Hovell, a spokesperson for the university. “This will help the city to grow and expand its international business portfolio, and just kind of be in the center of the action. This is a huge benefit to Thunderbird, a huge benefit to ASU and a huge benefit to the city.”

The Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University will be relocated from Glendale to the university’s Downtown Phoenix campus by the end of January 2019.

ASU will be building a new building to house the Thunderbird School in a lot south of the Beus Center for Law and Society on Polk Street between First and Second streets and is expected to be completed by January 2021, according to a university spokesperson.

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The proposed move was met with praise by Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton.

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

Tim Eigo, president of the Downtown Voices Coalition, said he thinks the move is “awesome” because it’ll bring more educated people to the city.

“I think it’s all positive to have a new group of smart people downtown,” Eigo said. “Especially because these are all international leaders who are doing and giving more leadership education.”

The Thunderbird School was created in 1946 and was the first ever higher-education school to focus exclusively on international management. Arizona State University and Thunderbird merged in 2014.

Hovell said Thunderbird and its relocation will be a big draw for international business leaders which can help bring events that would benefit people within the area and other ASU students and faculty.

Eigo said he believes many residents of downtown Phoenix are happy to see ASU moving so quickly to fill the lot that they purchased to build the law school. He said  any disruption caused by the construction would be brief and the result would be one less empty lot in the city.

The university released proposed drawings of the new building and expect the building to have between 85,000 and 95,000 square feet of space.

“I am optimistic that, if they stick close to what they drew, they’re still going to have an outward facing building that is enjoyable not only for the people who work inside but also to the people who walk or bike by,” Eigo said.

Allen Morrison, CEO and director general of the Thunderbird School of Global Management, said the move would give the school’s students a “rich campus experience that is lacking in Glendale.”

Morrison said Thunderbird would be able provide international context, electives and dual degree programs that the other students of Arizona State’s Downtown Phoenix campus might find appealing to enhance their education.

Eigo said ASU expanding the Downtown Phoenix campus over recent years has caused some challenges, the outcome has been mostly positive.

“There are challenges of course, we’re seeing it on housing, on affordability, and things like that,” Eigo said. “But generally speaking having more people seeing the core of the city as the place they want to be is a positive.”

Hovell said as the university’s campuses have grown so have the communities they serve.

“I think that most people who live and work downtown are pleased to see the influx of dynamic young people,” Eigo said.

Contact the reporter at Leah.Soto@asu.edu.