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We’ve all said it a thousand times, “Wouldn’t it be great to have one more chance to go back to Thunderbird!” From April 9 – 12, 2016, nearly 1,000 T-birds did just that. In celebration of our beloved school’s 70th anniversary, alumni from 1954 to 2016 gathered on the Thunderbird Campus in Glendale, Arizona to pay tribute to our history and to celebrate the bright future that lies before us. Dr. Allen Morrison, Thunderbird’s CEO & Director General, kicked off the weekend with a welcome speech that set exactly that tone and theme for the big event. “There are very few schools anywhere in the world that are celebrating 70 years,” Dr. Morrison said. “It is amazing to stop and think about what was happening here 71 years ago…and how the world has changed and continues to change.” In speaking about the importance of maintaining Thunderbird’s uniqueness, while benefitting from the synergies the merger with ASU brings, Morrison said: “We have a very different DNA at Thunderbird and the School will maintain its distinctiveness. That distinctiveness was critical to the Thunderbird of the past, it’s critical to Thunderbird today and it is essential for Thunderbird to prosper in the future.” That distinctiveness and history were seen throughout the weekend. Old friends and roommates who had not seen each other for decades embraced and shared stories of their global adventures at both the old and the new pubs on campus. A fairly restrained version of a 1990s favorite event, Paella in the Desert, was held on campus where one alum was heard joking, “I’m glad they made this ‘age appropriate’ for us older alums! I’m not sure I could drink the Trash Can Kool-Aid concoctions we used to drink!” In addition to formal and informal dinners and dancing, another Thunderbird staple was the Old Boys vs. Current Students Rugby game.

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While some of the former heroes of the game chose to be spectators, the Old Boys once again pulled out a win against the current Thunderbird Rugby team – a result that was appropriate for a weekend that reunited so many former students. In addition to the fun and games, we had the opportunity to actually go back to school and learn from some of our favorite faculty members alongside some of the distinguished ASU faculty. The Educational Leadership Forum was a great chance to discuss, debate and open our eyes to some of the new trends in global management…just like when we were on campus. The world keeps changing and there is always something new to learn. What I learned, evenmore this time than at other alumni events, was that the gift that Thunderbird gave to us was really to open up the world to each and every T-bird. We have lifelong friends scattered across the globe as a result of our time on that mystical campus in Glendale and those friendships stand true despite distance and time. At the 70th Reunion, many of us reconnected with people who helped us find our first international jobs, or T-bird friends that we met along the way with whom we had never been on campus before. It reminded us of how it feels to be part of a community of like-minded, globally aware, adventurous, curious and brave individuals that does not exist anywhere else. #TbirdOnlyHere Four days back on campus passed quickly. But it was enough time to remind us what it was like to be a T-bird, what is means now to be a T-bird and we left campus certain that the Thunderbird Mystique is alive and well today and will continue to be far into the future. Thunderbird turned 70 this year and no matter what year you graduated, you’ll be glad to know the school continues to innovate and change, but remains just what it has always been.