At her core, Dr Katie Thiry is a lifelong learner. When the Assistant Dean for the Department of Organizational Studies in the Forbes School of Business and Technology® at the University of Arizona Global Campus takes on a new task or skill, she immerses herself in it and learns it to the greatest extent that she can. As someone who so greatly values learning, it is no wonder she has dedicated her life to the education and training of others.

“Anytime I start to do something it turns into me being a student of it,” she says, laughing. Whether it’s a leadership role at the University or a new hobby, she becomes proficient. When she first explored a reiki treatment for her personal healing, for example, it was not long before she began to study reiki and today is a Certified Level 1 and 2 reiki healer. Although Dr. Thiry didn’t learn to swim until she was an adult, today she is a Red Cross certified swim instructor. After taking a hot yoga class, Katie devoted herself to learning the practice and is now a certified instructor.

However, what is perhaps the most important aspect of her life outside her husband and her work at UAGC are her horses. Dr. Thiry cares for her equines Quincy, Cody, and Armani at her home hobby farm and trains with some of the world’s highest-ranked trainers after picking up the sport as an adult. Again, not because she aspires to compete, but because she holds her standards for learning so high.

“I’m not afraid to be the person in the room who knows the least,” Dr. Thiry says, and it is with this mentality of self-improvement that she approaches helping others to be lifelong learners.

uGC Fculty dr. katie thiry with husband and horses

Dr. Katie Thiry with her family: her husband, Jason, their three horses, and dog.

From Education to Educator

Teaching has always been in Dr. Thiry’s blood. In fact, she knew from a very early age the impact it could have on her life. After completing the Estee Lauder corporate training program in 1995, and using the skills learned therein to put herself through her undergraduate degree, she had a realization.

“I experienced the transformative power of training and education and knew I wanted my future career to be focused on preparing others to be successful in the workforce,” she says.

With this mission in mind, Dr. Thiry went on to graduate from St. Catherine University, one of the largest private women’s universities in the country. Not surprising, her first professional role was in higher education administration at the school. Much like many UAGC students, she worked full-time for the university, while pursuing her Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership on nights and weekends. From there, she launched her career in corporate training.

“As a corporate trainer, I designed and delivered training focused on leadership and process and people management,” she notes. In this role, she developed curricula and programs for human resources professionals to tackle critical components of their jobs. Dr. Thiry’s dedication to her education was not over, however, and she later went on to complete her Ph.D. in Education, Training and Performance Improvement. It was this final degree that brought her career back to the world of higher education.

Eventually, Dr. Thiry found herself at home when she became a faculty member at UAGC. Not only was she working in education, something she had been passionate about for her entire professional life, but she was given the freedom to build a whole new curriculum from the ground up. Upon joining the team full time in 2012, Dr. Thiry was tasked with designing and creating a new Master’s in Human Resources Management Degree Program. In so doing, she was given the power to have a direct impact on the lives of those around her.

“This is what made me fall in love with this place,” Dr. Thiry said. “That they tasked me with that and believed in me to do that.” She touts this as one of the greatest strengths of UAGC, noting it is a place for people who love to create, to solve problems, and to learn.

Through her work, Dr. Thiry says she hopes to help others tackle problems with a solution-oriented mindset. This is another one of Dr. Thiry’s favorite things about UAGC and something she loves to see others embrace.

“When they practice it long enough, an individual’s mindset becomes an unbreakable pattern and has a ripple effect on others,” she says of this passion. Today as Assistant Dean, she can provide educators with the resources, the curricula, and the support to do just that.

A Certified Expert

With countless degrees under her belt, Dr. Thiry’s appetite for learning and bettering herself is still insatiable. In addition to her personal passion projects like her certifications in yoga, reiki, and swimming, Dr. Thiry has 12 professional certifications and counting. Some of the most prominent of these certifications are:

  • Fulbright Specialist, U.S. Dept of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA)
  • Six Sigma - Green Belt Certification, GE Fleet Services
  • Certified Trainer, Leadership Development & Customer Service, Miller Heiman Group
  • Certified Professional in Learning & Performance (CPLP), Association for Talent Development (ATD)

Dr. Thiry’s endeavors as a lifelong learner are never finished, and next on her list is to further her work as a Fulbright Specialist. She recently proposed a project co-authored with the University of Split in Croatia, hoping to be able to have an international impact in her work. 
Dr. Thiry is making an impact, and her contributions have not gone unnoticed by University leadership.

“It's truly a pleasure collaborating with Katie daily,” says Maja Zelihic, Dean of the Forbes School of Business and Technology® at UAGC. “She consistently exceeds expectations, championing innovative ideas that benefit our entire college and UAGC. Her recent projects have been phenomenal successes. She is not only on the Fulbright roster, she secured a project almost immediately upon roster placement – which is quite an achievement! We eagerly await updates on her project at the University of Split, Croatia, scheduled for next year, and can't wait to share the outcomes with our UAGC community.”

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