Larry Edward Penley, Ph.D.
Larry Edward Penley, Ph.D., has served as Thunderbird president since Nov. 1, 2012. His distinguished career in higher education has included assignments as president of Colorado State University, dean of the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, and chairman of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), a world leader in accreditation services.
Dr. Penley brings extensive overseas experience to Thunderbird and is passionate about the school’s global mission. As a consultant, he has guided corporate clients in China, India, Europe and the United States. As an educator, he has lectured on four continents and held faculty and administrative positions in Mexico and Venezuela. While at ASU, he also oversaw the launch of successful MBA programs in China and Mexico. Dr. Penley speaks Spanish and champions Hispanic causes in the United States.
He served as president of CSU from 2003 to 2008, leading the strategic repositioning of Colorado’s second-largest university. At CSU he reversed declining enrollment while substantially boosting honors program participation and providing full scholarships to all grant-eligible freshmen. Dr. Penley is credited with expanding the university's student diversity, doubling the institution's fundraising, and developing innovative, accessible business education solutions for working professionals.
Over an 18-year career at ASU, Dr. Penley lectured as a professor of management and held the Herberger Arizona Heritage Chair. He served as dean of the business school from 1990 to 2003. In this role, he led the creation of a strategic plan that produced a top 25 ranking among public MBA programs worldwide. Dr. Penley also developed the W. P. Carey relationship that led to a naming gift for the school.
As a UCLA-certified corporate director registered with NASDAQ, Dr. Penley has served on corporate boards for organizations such as Adaptive Curriculum, AfterCollege, and Wells Fargo Credit Card Company. His commitment to community development also has led him to serve on a variety of nonprofit boards, including the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, INROADS Arizona, Institute for International Education, and the National Society of Hispanic MBAs.
Dr. Penley's academic research has focused on the intersection between individual and organizational behavior in areas such as engagement and communication. He has been published in major academic publications such as the Academy of Management Journal. He holds a Ph.D. in management from the University of Georgia, with bachelor's and master's degrees from Wake Forest University. Dr. Penley and his wife, Yolanda Sanchez Penley, raised their two children in Arizona and now live in Phoenix.