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Ambassador Barbara Barrett, appointed today as interim president of the Thunderbird school in Arizona, is not your usual dean appointment.

Given that Thunderbird used to be a US aircraft base, it is perhaps fitting that she was the first civilian woman to land in an F/A-18 Hornet on an aircraft carrier and has trained as an astronaut - she was the backup spaceflight participant for the Soyuz TMA-16 flight to the International Space Station.

On the diplomatic front she was senior advisor to the US Mission to the United Nations and US Ambassador to Finland.

Her management expertise includes being president and chief executive of the American Management Association, as well as being the first female chairmen of the Thunderbird board.

She will replace Thunderbird President Ángel Cabrera, who last month announced he had accepted the role of president at George Mason University, in Virginia, at the end of April. The school has begun the search for a permanent replacement to Prof Cabrera.


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