Thunderbird School celebrates grand opening, name of new building

April 10, 2022

F. Francis and Dionne Najafi Thunderbird World Headquarters Unveiling Event Part of Week of Events Marking School’s 75th Anniversary

Arizona State University’s Thunderbird School of Global Management unveiled the name of its new headquarters on Friday evening: the F. Francis and Dionne Najafi Thunderbird Global Headquarters.

With klieg lights, fireworks, food trucks and live music on streets closed to traffic, the event was as much a festival as it was a grand opening for the downtown Phoenix building.

The building is named after Phoenix philanthropists Francis and Dionne Najafi, who recently bequeathed a historic $25 million gift to the school, with the goal of educating 100 million learners worldwide by 2030.

On Friday, alumni from around the world enjoyed food and drink and watched flamenco performances before the program began with Thunderbird’s centuries-old tradition of the international parade of flags, 58 in all, each representing the country of origin of a current student. The grand opening capped off a week of festivities that included master classes on a range of topics from cryptocurrencies to space leadership; a golf tournament; and regional celebrations of food, music, dance and more.

Nearly 60 flags from around the world — each representing a current student’s home country — were part of the parade of flags at Thunderbird’s grand opening Friday in downtown Phoenix. Photo by Brandon Sullivan

“We’ve come a long way in the past four years,” Thunderbird general manager and dean Sanjeev Khagram said Friday night. “Today we celebrate three incredible achievements.”

It was the school’s 75th anniversary, and it also marked four years since she joined ASU. The opening of the $67 million state-of-the-art building on First and Polk streets downtown less than three years after construction began was the third achievement.

Khagram quoted Amelia Earhart: “The most difficult thing is the decision to act; the rest is just tenacity.

“The future is incredibly bright,” he said. “Let’s look to the next 75 years.

Man speaking at lectern with people seated nearby on stage at building naming event

Thunderbird Director and Dean General Sanjeev Khagram speaks at the naming ceremony for the new building on Friday evening. Seated are (left to right) Larry Penley, treasurer of the Arizona Board of Regents and former president of Thunderbird; Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego; ASU President Michael Crow; donors Dionne Najafi and Francois Francois Najafi; and Robert Stone, former Lieutenant Governor of the Gila River Indian Community, who performed a Native American prayer and blessing to open the event. Photo by Brandon Sullivan

Moore Ruble Yudell and Jones Studio, the architects of Thunderbird’s new global headquarters, called the structure “the most technologically advanced building of any leadership, management, or business school in the world.” Students can learn a new language in its immersive virtual reality language lab, visualize and interpret data using artificial intelligence, and connect with the global community using the latest immersive and virtual communications found throughout the world. building.

Spanning 110,000 square feet – spread over five floors – the building includes state-of-the-art flexible classrooms, 1,600 square feet of exhibits, regional heritage lounges featuring works of art donated by alumni representing a variety of artifacts from Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe, and much more.

Thunderbird will be a key partner in bringing Phoenix to the world, said Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego. The city invested $13.5 million in the new headquarters.

“This is a transformational day for the city of Phoenix,” Gallego said. “The mythical thunderbird rises.”

A woman speaks at a desk with the Thunderbird School logo on it while a man stands behind her

Philanthropists Phoenix Dionne (front) and Francis Najafi recently bequeathed a historic $25 million gift to the school, with the goal of educating 100 million learners worldwide by 2030. The new Thunderbird building is named in their honor. Photo by Brandon Sullivan

Thunderbird was founded in 1946 by an Army colonel who felt that the United States was notoriously short of personnel trained in foreign trade.

ASU President Michael Crow cited these origins and their relationship to the world in 2022.

“Thunderbird became a place where world leaders could come together to determine how they could interact with each other and advance our species without conflict, without fighting, without death and without land acquisition or displacement in a country. .just because you think you can do it,” Crow said.

Video from the Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University (ASU)

Video by ASU Media Relations Visual Communications

The school was born out of a global conflict that ended with the use of nuclear weapons, he said.

“That can never happen again,” Crow said. “People who think this way cannot lead nations.”

Thunderbird stands for free trade, rule of law and democracy, he said.

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