NDA Faculty Team Report

Introduction: The “NDA Team” is composed of seven members of the Thunderbird Faculty (Professors David Bowen, Glenn Fong, Andrew Inkpen, Mary Teagarden, Frank Tuzzolino, Bert Valencia, John Zerio) elected unanimously by the Faculty-at-Large to focus on the academic and operational aspects of strategic alternatives proposals.


From: John Zerio
Date: May 5, 2014
To: All Thunderbird Faculty
Subject: NDA Team Faculty Report


All Faculty:

The team has met four times with BOT members since our last report to the faculty. The primary focus continues to be on the academic and operational aspects of standing proposals. As indicated in our last note to the faculty, the potential partners are 501(c) (3) educational institutions. Simultaneously, members of the BOT, as is public knowledge, met on Saturday, April 26, with the TIAA leadership in San Francisco. The BOT shared with the NDA team the outcomes of the meeting, as well as the terms of correspondence with TIAA before and after the meeting.

The San Francisco meeting, as reported to us, was cordial. The parties worked on the clarification of positions and perspectives. However, no specific numbers or timeline on a TIAA donation were offered. Thus, TIAA has not presented a detailed proposal for evaluation. Also, as stated in public documents, such offer of donation from TIAA comes with qualified conditions. Acceptance of these same qualified conditions was also stipulated by TIAA for their willingness to sign an NDA agreement. The conditions include a reorganization of the BOT, rewriting of the By-laws of the BOT, and assumption of Thunderbird governance by the TIAA leadership. [These are, generally speaking, the same conditions contained in the Hinrich Foundation proposal distributed to the faculty by the President].

Going forward, the BOT has decided to focus its energies on the proposals currently under evaluation regardless of any future actions by the TIAA to harm that process.

In our view, the decision by the BOT to move forward without the TIAA is the correct decision for Thunderbird. The TIAA’s actions have seriously damaged the Thunderbird brand and the interests of all Thunderbird stakeholders. In addition, TIAA’s actions are compromising a search for a potential partner. The NDA committee has learned that some potential partners are reluctant to engage with us for fear of themselves being publically criticized by TIAA. Moreover, two potential partners were contacted directly by TIAA just last week, as noted in the update from the BOT. Throughout this lengthy process, enrollments have suffered from the ongoing critiques of Thunderbird that TIAA places in the press, possibly impacting Thunderbird’s attractiveness to a potential partner. As long as it continues such behavior, the TIAA should not participate in discussions involving future partnerships.


(David Bowen, Glenn Fong, Andrew Inkpen, Mary Teagarden, Frank Tuzzolino, Bert Valencia, John Zerio)