Twenty-two business and higher education partnerships throughout the state were recently recognized for their innovative collaborations that further the education of Oklahoma’s workforce.
The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education’s Economic Development Grant for the Partnership Recognition Program is designed to highlight successful partnerships between higher education institutions and businesses and to further cultivate the higher learning environment through State Regents’ Economic Development Grants.
Institutions involved in these partnerships provide $500 for tuition waivers to employees of the partnering businesses, internships for current students of the institutions to work at the partnering businesses, faculty externships with the partnering businesses, and/or enhancement of the partnership with additional equipment, materials or supplies. The State Regents provide a $500 match to the waivers.
“To improve Oklahoma's future, we need higher education and businesses to develop successful partnerships and training programs. Through these partnerships, students receive hands-on, career-related experiences and better preparation for college,” said Chancellor Glen D. Johnson. “With these partnerships in place, Oklahoma can better train future employees and strengthen its position in the global marketplace.”
The partnerships recognized for 2010 are:
Cameron University and BancFirst – CU and BancFirst share a common vision of giving business students real-world experience through CU’s portfolio management class. BancFirst has extended this class a $1 million line of credit, which allows students to directly see the impacts of market shifts as they manage a portfolio of fixed-income securities. Under the direction of Dr. T.K. Bhattacharya, this program has been a highlight for CU business students, as well as a great résumé builder as students prepare for graduation.
Connors State College and Arvest Bank – Arvest awarded $10,000 to the Connors Development Foundation Inc. on behalf of the Walton Family Foundation. CSC will use the funds to relocate its nursing program from the Warner campus to Northeastern State University‘s Muskogee campus. CSC continues to grow in northeast Oklahoma, where Arvest has a relatively large presence. Arvest staff members are also active in the community. Derek Hanson, Arvest branch manager in Eufaula, is an active officer/board director for Connors Development Foundation.
Eastern Oklahoma State College and Kiamichi Technology Centers – The relationship between EOSC and KTC is one that has grown to benefit students of all ages in southeastern Oklahoma. KTC and EOSC initiatives include: the College and Career Tour and the Cooperative Alliance program. The annual College and Career Tour brings in 1,000 eighth-grade students to the McAlester Expo Center to learn more about career options after high school. The Cooperative Alliance program allows secondary and adult students to earn up to 30 hours of college credit while they are enrolled in a KTC program at its Antlers campus. This “first-year” experience for students provides them an opportunity to get into the higher education pipeline and pursue a college degree. Without KTC, these opportunities would not be available to the people in this area.
Langston University-Oklahoma City and Tinker Federal Credit Union – The collaboration between LU-OKC and Darius Jackson of TFCU has allowed LU students, faculty and staff to take advantage of a wide variety of services located within the Tinker network. For the past three years, TFCU has provided scholarships for students attending LU by sponsoring tables at the President’s Annual Scholarship Gala. Jackson also works with LU’s Housing and Urban Development/Historically Black Colleges and Universities economic development director to set up educational classes on budgeting and banking and a credit workshop for the students and citizens of Langston. He also provides services in the Oklahoma City empowerment zone to enhance the lives of low- to moderate-income citizens in the area. Jackson assists with events held at LU-OKC by physically setting up for events and providing items such as executive pens, manicure sets, business card holders, etc. The contributions of TFCU and Jackson have made a significant and positive impact in furthering the education of students at LU in addition to contributing to the financial literacy of low- to moderate-income individuals that are a part of the local workforce.
Murray State College and Scott Pet Foods – Since 2001, MSC and Johnson County-area leaders have collaborated to attract numerous pet product companies to the area, including Scott Pet Foods. Scott Pet Foods established a Tishomingo plant six years ago to process “dog chews” under its brand name. The plant employs 60 people and regularly contributes to worthy causes in the community. Dr. Noble Jobe, president of MSC said, “Just recently, Scott Pet donated a whole pallet of disposable bird feeders full of bird seed for the Arbuckle Simpson Nature Festival. This will enable the organization to distribute them in this community. That is the kind of partnership all communities would love to have.”
Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College and Integris Baptist Regional Health Center and Foundation – Since NEO established its nursing program in 1964, Integris Baptist RHC has opened its doors to NEO nursing students for clinical experience. Through the years, the hospital expanded those clinical opportunities to NEO’s medical lab technician and physical therapy assistant programs. NEO relies upon the RHC to provide its students with learning experiences that are gained outside of the boundaries of the classroom. In return, the hospital is rewarded by NEO’s steady supply of qualified employees. The role of Integris Baptist has expanded with help from its foundation. A gift of $198,000 donated by the foundation to NEO has enabled the college to bring the collaborative Bachelor of Science nursing degree option to its campus. The gift paid NEO’s portion of the expense to team with the University of Oklahoma, thus forming the only partnership of its kind in rural Oklahoma. This donation funded NEO’s portion of the salaries, supplies, equipment and faculty training needed for the first three years of the program. The funding has given NEO the ability to increase the number of registered nurses in the state during a time when the health care industry is experiencing a shortfall of individuals in that profession.
Northeastern State University and Walmart – Walmart has become an important partner in both the support of NSU’s supply chain management (SCM) program and the education of students about careers in the supply chain area. The company has provided $50,000 in scholarship support for American Indian students majoring in SCM and has two representatives – Steve Byford and Mike Brazel – on NSU’s SCM advisory board. Bob Arvin, Walmart’s regional vice president, is also a member of the dean’s advisory council of the College of Business and Technology. The company has also assisted the college in getting the word out about careers in SCM. In collaboration with an NSU faculty member, Dr. Mike Landry, the company developed a DVD focusing on supply chain careers for use by faculty in the College of Business and Technology.
Northern Oklahoma College and Stillwater Medical Center – For more than six years, NOC and SMC have participated in a partnership that has provided strong, competent nursing graduates. SMC provides funds for a full-time NOC sophomore faculty member, helps pay part of the rent for the building, donates skills lab supplies to the nursing students and provides scholarships to nursing students from SMC. The project began with four sophomore students and has grown to 34 sophomores and 32 freshmen. NOC students utilize SMC facilities for all types of clinical/practicum learning such as maternity, surgery, intensive care, emergency room, medical, and pre- and post-op. Their commitment to the partnership with NOC is just one way SMC is striving to achieve their vision and mission.
Northwestern Oklahoma State University, Arysta LifeScience North America and Brine Electric – The partnership among Arysta, Brine and NWOSU enables engagement in research and development through day-to-day testing and analysis at the university and in the life-science field. Stimulated by an Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education economic development enhancement grant, NWOSU established a research and development lab on its Alva campus, where NWOSU students are trained to use scientific equipment for analysis. This collaboration, with the foremost authorities in this emerging industry, offers a distinct advantage for NWOSU and Oklahoma.
Oklahoma City Community College and Oklahoma Natural Gas – ONG has provided OCCC the information and required knowledge to investigate and establish its compressed natural gas (CNG) program. This program has now gained national attention in both the license requirement and the procedure for the installation of CNG conversion equipment in vehicles. As the result of this partnership, OCCC has been contacted by numerous Oklahoma firms seeking to become involved in the CNG servicing of vehicles and conversion requirements and training. Many of the new vehicle dealerships that work with OCCC now have their automotive technicians-in-training complete the CNG courses. Several organizations in Oklahoma are in the process of adding CNG vehicles to their fleets including ONG, the cities of Oklahoma City and Norman, and Oklahoma state government.
Oklahoma Panhandle State University and Guymon Fire Department – For more than 12 years, OPSU and GFD have enjoyed a partnership centered on education and community development. OPSU provides students in the university's fire protection technology program with the opportunity to work, train and respond to emergencies alongside career firefighters in Guymon. The three-year program is designed to help students obtain positions at fire departments following graduation. In addition, GFD promotes OPSU in the community, and both graduates and non-graduates of the OPSU-GFD program attend OPSU to continue their educations. OPSU and the GFD also offer grants focused on providing Fire Fighter I and EMT-Intermediate training to participants and local fire departments free of charge.
Oklahoma State University and Triton Scientific LLC – In partnership with Triton, OSU has formed the University Multispectral Laboratories (UML), a state-owned, privately-operated partnership dedicated to the testing, evaluation and certification of defense-related technologies. Located in Ponca City and Stillwater, and with amenities throughout Oklahoma, the UML operates state-of-the-art laboratories and indoor/outdoor test facilities. Current federal contracts are in excess of $14 million. The Ponca City facilities were built with support from Conoco Phillips, who donated a building on their campus along with $2 million in cash. The state of Oklahoma has obligated $6.5 million for capital improvements, and Ponca City Development Authority has invested $2 million as part of its economic development strategy. The UML provides unique opportunities for OSU students and faculty to be competitive in these areas as Oklahoma becomes a “go-to” state for this work.
Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City and Total Environment Inc. – The collaboration between OSU-OKC and Total Environment resulted in a building campaign for the new Agriculture Resource Center at OSU-OKC. The company sponsored a 1,900-square-foot, state-of-the-art landscape graphics and design studio used for instruction in landscape graphics and design, computer design, irrigation and drainage design, and bidding and estimating. The owners of the Edmond-based landscape service business, Ty and Shelly Hartwig, employ more than 200 people, many of whom are OSU-OKC horticulture students. Total Environment’s decision to support instruction in horticulture education not only strengthens their bond with the university but also supports the growth of the nursery and landscape industry in Oklahoma.
Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology and MidAmerica Industrial Park – The partnership between OSUIT and the park resulted in customized training and professional development activities for park employers and staff. For more than a decade, this relationship not only increased employee productivity but helped establish collaboration efforts with Rogers State University, Northeast Technology Center and local public schools, along with numerous community partners. In summer 2000, the partnership committed to the construction of a 13,500-square-foot technical training facility and the purchase of instructional equipment. Due to an expansion of course offerings, the park trustees agreed to double the size of the facility and expand offering assistance to small businesses and adult basic education for the community. Since then, the OSUIT/MAIP Education Center has served more than 2,000 people in credit classes and approximately 2,100 people in non-credit classes.
Redlands Community College and Oklahoma Tool & Machine – The partnership between RCC and OTM has been a win-win for El Reno. The El Reno-based company owner, Steve Pickett, manufactures specialty parts and safety components for a wide variety of industries and companies such as Terex Corp, a heavy equipment producer, and Autoquip Lifting Solutions, a hydraulic scissor lift producer. OTM is one of five companies in the United States that utilizes the original equipment designed for the manufacturers of industrial drill bits in the drill bit sharpening operations. RCC’s manufacturing extension agent, Mike Raymond, has worked with OTM to establish their expanded services network. Because of this partnership, OTM is certified through the Aerospace Industries Association as a National Aerospace Standards 907 retooling company. This certification enables OTM to support the aerospace industry on a national level and locally, in support of Tinker Air Force Base/Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center.
Rogers State University and the City of Claremore – RSU and the city of Claremore frequently pool resources so that residents and students have superior facilities and services. The rapid growth of the university over the last decade required significant investment in infrastructure, and the city stepped forward to make sure utilities were available. New facilities included classroom buildings, the library, student housing, athletic fields and the student center. RSU students, faculty and staff have access to the city’s state-of-the-art recreational center and hold many events at the city’s Expo Center, including commencement. This partnership also resulted in an emergency communication system. The city provided an emergency generator, while RSU provided the tower and broadcast capabilities. The city also sponsored many events as RSU celebrated its centennial year in 2009-10.
Rose State College and Tinker Air Force Base – The partnership between RSC and the Force Development Division at TAFB was instrumental in the design and implementation of the Education Training Partnership. This training program will ensure incumbent and future supervisors demonstrate and practice key workplace competencies. As a result of their efforts, thousands of TAFB employees have enrolled in and successfully completed a variety of college-level courses. As the workforce development policy unit of Oklahoma’s largest aerospace employer, TAFB endeavors to establish and sustain viable partnerships with universities, colleges, high schools, technology centers and industry representatives to foster and promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.
Seminole State College and BancFirst – The SSC and BancFirst partnership has been beneficial to both organizations as they collaborate to provide training and facility space. SSC has partnered with BancFirst to provide employee training in insurance education and public seminars on subjects such as counterfeit detection and identity theft protection. For many years, BancFirst has sponsored an all-campus luncheon for employees during in-service training and recently worked with SSC to host the opening session of the annual Leadership Oklahoma retreat in Seminole. The two organizations also joined forces to show support for area firefighters after devastating wildfires consumed the area – hosting a “Heroes” appreciation dinner for several city fire departments as well as volunteer firefighters from across the area. A partnership program established in 2002 with the BancFirst locations in Prague, Meeker and Stroud continues to provide a tuition-free, college-credit course in business leadership for qualified high school juniors and seniors. More than 100 students have taken advantage of the partnership program. BancFirst executives Karen James, Harvey Robinson, Mark Schell and Roger Nansel have all served as either trustees or regents.
Southeastern Oklahoma State University and the City of Durant – The partnership between SE and the city of Durant has brought about many campus improvements. In 2003, the city held a sales tax election with two, quarter-cent sales tax propositions for a $7 million regional multi-sports complex, a $7.2 million SE arena/convocation center and a $2.8 million renovation of Paul Laird football field. Renovations to the football field included installing artificial turf, expanding home-side seating, entryway improvements and a new locker/training room. The arena and convocation center has a capacity of 3,000, a Jumbotron, four scoreboards, office space, and the First United Bank of Durant Blue and Gold Suite. The facility has hosted numerous local and regional tournaments, along with SE commencement ceremonies. SE and the city recently joined forces and won the opportunity to co-host the Lone Star Conference Softball Tournament at the new Multi-Sports Complex, hosting hundreds of visitors.
Southwestern Oklahoma State University and Dougherty Forestry Manufacturing – DFM has partnered with SWOSU’s Center for Economic Development and its Oklahoma Small Business Development Center to create a company that is continuously providing innovative solutions for farmers, ranchers and government agencies. Needing a solution to better clear trees and brush, the Dougherty brothers, Patrick and Peter, developed a tractor-mounted saw they dubbed the Turbo Saw. After local success and recognition as a Journal Record Innovator of the Year in 2004, DFM began developing and offering new products. The company now offers nine products within their successful Turbo Saw line. The center has worked diligently with DFM to secure financing, and the Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance has helped DFM source materials and utilize state incentives. Sales of Turbo Saw products have doubled each year since the company’s inception. DFM will hire more workers to keep up with the rising product demand after the planned facilities expansion.
Tulsa Community College and Dick Conner Correctional Center – In 2007, TCC and DCCC partnered to create a corrections education program aimed at empowering offenders intellectually, culturally, economically and socially. The Corrections Education Program provides offenders with pre-release higher education opportunities that produce marketable workforce and reentry skills. This unique partnership provides face-to-face instruction and creates an environment where skills and self-esteem are developed. Through the efforts, administrative support and dedicated leadership at DCCC, TCC offers more than 94 classes serving 180 students with 52 completing the coursework to earn one or more certificates or a degree. Research has shown these 52 offenders have more than a 92 percent chance to return to society as productive, lifelong citizens.
Western Oklahoma State College and Altus Air Force Base – WOSC and AAFB’s partnership includes support for the Child Development Center on AAFB, clinical support at the obstetrics and pediatric clinics, and the Student Educational Employment Program (STEP). The CDC is utilized as an exemplary site for WOSC students involved through its child development program. Center staff members serve on WOSC’s child development advisory committee and were instrumental in its recent accreditation process and success of the program. The center, along with the AAFB OB and pediatric clinics, provide WOSC’s nursing students with clinical and observation opportunities at their locations. Through STEP, WOSC students obtain federal employment and help the governmental entities on AAFB to meet their professional, technical and administrative needs and gain a quality and diverse workforce.
More details about the partnerships will be available soon on the State Regents’ website at www.okhighered.org/econ-dev.