Thunderbird School of Global Management transferred presidential authority to U.S. Ambassador Barbara Barrett during a special ceremony April 27, 2012, following spring commencement on campus in Glendale, Arizona.
During the ceremony, Thunderbird’s ninth President Ángel Cabrera, Ph.D., shared memories from the past eight years and talked about the impact that T-birds and the school have had on his life.
“We may leave Thunderbird the campus,” Cabrera told the students. “But we will never leave Thunderbird the community.”
As Cabrera steps into his new role as president of George Mason University in Virginia and Barrett leads Thunderbird as interim president, a 12-member committee is continuing its worldwide search for Thunderbird’s next president.
The search coincides with an ongoing search for a new chief academic officer and provost. During commencement, David Bowen, Ph.D., officially handed over duties to Interim Chief Academic Officer and Provost Larry Penley, Ph.D.
But before all of the ceremonies and formal farewells, T-bird faculty and staff on campus had one final chance to have fun and say goodbye to their president during a surprise party April 25, 2012, in the Thunderbird Commons. See photos here.
One by one, a handful of faculty and staff members stood up and shared memories of working with Cabrera. Students and staff also performed cultural dances. Dr. Beth Cabrera and the Cabrera children sang a Spanish song, and a staff band performed Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida,” a favorite of the outgoing president.
The party ended with an emotional Cabrera saying goodbye and thanking the Thunderbird community for its hard work and accomplishments.
“This event was just one small way of showing Ángel as a collective whole how much we appreciate his leadership and immense contributions to Thunderbird over the last eight years,” said Special Assistant to the President and event organizer Gbemi Disu ’06. “Almost 200 staff and faculty showed up to show their support and love for him.”
Over the past eight years, Dr. Cabrera has helped Thunderbird grow in new ways and has connected the school with some of the world’s most influential and effective global organizations, such as the United Nations, the World Economic Forum and the Clinton Global Initiative. These are just a few of the relationships Dr. Cabrera has cultivated to strengthen Thunderbird’s recognition in the international community and among global leaders.
“As president of this great institution, I’ve been touched by personal stories of courageous women entrepreneurs from Kandahar to Lima,” Cabrera said. “I’ve been honored to share time with world figures like the Dalai Lama, Sandra Day O’Connor and Bill Clinton. Most importantly, I have taught and been taught by hundreds of amazing students from every part of the globe.”
Barrett, who formerly served as U.S. Ambassador to Finland, will bring world-class credentials in business, diplomacy and philanthropy to Thunderbird. She has also been an executive, lawyer, and entrepreneur and has broken many barriers in these positions. She is also an instrument-rated pilot and certified astronaut.
“I am conscious of what a great privilege and responsibility it is to lead such a special place as Thunderbird,” Barrett said during her first speech as Interim President. “I look forward to the privilege of being part of this extraordinary Thunderbird faculty and family.”
Thunderbird Alumni Network Board President and Thunderbird Global Council member Karen Longo ’88 called Ambassador Barrett a true global leader.
“Thunderbird is in the most capable hands we could imagine for this transition,” Longo said. “I am confident that she will strengthen Thunderbird through her leadership, guidance and wealth of experience and continue the mission of the No. 1 international business school in the world.”