Forty-Five Countries Represented at Thunderbird Graduation Friday, May 9

May 12, 2014

Flag Ceremony Observed Diversity among Students and Importance in Global Business

Diversity plays a major role in global business practices and Thunderbird School of Global Management’s graduation held on Fri., May 9, 2014, was evidence of that. Over 40 countries were represented among the 260 graduates ranging from South Sudan and Egypt to Kyrgyzstan and Macedonia.

This diversity was on display Friday during the international business school’s traditional “Parade of International Flags” ceremony, a processional featuring one student from each represented country carrying their nation’s flag. In true Thunderbird fashion, each of the 45 flag bearers gave a brief speech about their country’s economic, political and social uniqueness. The number of flags at this spring’s commencement is the most in the 37-year history of the global business school’s colorful flags ceremony. 

Final Global MBA for Latin American Managers class graduates
On Saturday May 24, 130 students representing 24 countries graduated from Thunderbird’s Global MBA for Latin American Manager’s joint-degree program with Tec de Monterey. These recent grads join over 1,900 Global MBA alumni who participated in this innovative distance-learning program that blended live satellite broadcasting, local class facilitation and virtual interaction with onsite seminars on Thunderbird’s campus and in locations around the world. This final cohort represented the 15th graduating class of the Global MBA program. Congrats T-birds!

“Started by students in 1977, the Parade of International Flags remains one of Thunderbird’s most time-honored traditions,” said Dr. Dale Davison, Thunderbird’s dean of faculty and clinical professor of Accounting, who kicked off the graduation ceremony and introduced the parade.

Attendees also heard remarks from Thunderbird President Larry Edward Penley, Ph.D. “Thunderbird has always exhibited a distinctive character and embraced innovation. Celebrate your accomplishments, but challenge yourself to act with honesty and integrity,” Dr. Penley told the graduating class, which ranged in age from 22 to 65. “This commencement is about your future.”

Robert J. Herbold, retired chief operating officer of Microsoft and recipient of an honorary Doctor of International Law Degree from Thunderbird, gave the spring commencement address. Herbold told a personal story that left graduates with two key messages: “Life is all about continual improvement,” said Herbold. “Learn, be curious and seek improvement. Second, learn to spot points of inflection. They can either bury you or be huge opportunities.”

The overall messages of diversity and global sustainability were supported in the comments of each of the commencement speakers as they encouraged students to be a driving force for both. Thunderbird School of Global Management develops its business school students with the skills and global mindset to make a positive impact through leadership, contribution and academic achievement wherever their degree takes them.  

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For information about Thunderbird School of Global Management, please contact Julie McGough, Marketing Director, at or +1 602 978-7348.