Twenty-six 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 partnerships with additional equipment, materials or supplies. The State Regents provide a $500 match to the waivers.
“When businesses partner with higher education, the regional and state economy wins,” said Chancellor Glen D. Johnson. “Oklahoma’s colleges and universities collaborate with businesses to provide customized education and training, and through these efforts, students receive hands-on, career-related experiences that better prepare them for today’s business world. As economic engines, higher education institutions serve as catalysts for generating ideas and business opportunities. Colleges and universities also support health and wellness initiatives through medical centers and recreational facilities that benefit not only the lives of their students but their surrounding communities.″
The partnerships recognized for 2012 are:
Cameron University and CGI – The Lawton office of CGI, a global IT and business process-service company, caters services primarily to Department of Defense contracts at Fort Sill, Okla. More than 30 percent of Lawton CGI members are CU graduates. CGI executives serve on CU advisory boards, and their employees serve as adjunct faculty. They have been instrumental in providing information on industry needs and trends, which is vital in the development of curriculum. CGI, Great Plains Technology Center and CU’s multimedia department hold an annual animation program and contest, where industry representatives can interact with students. Additionally, CGI has donated funds to the School of Science and Technology toward the creation of a simulations lab and have assigned experts in this field who are assisting CU in the development of course curriculum that will eventually benefit both industry and students alike.
Carl Albert State College and the City of Poteau – The range of economic development projects that CASC and the city of Poteau have collaborated on includes business and industry recruitment and retention, workforce training, environmental projects, tourism and civic improvement. The most current collaboration, the Fort Smith Regional Alliance created in April 2011, represents years of effort for the formation of a two-state regional economic development entity. The alliance is comprised of 14 communities in Arkansas and Oklahoma inside the eight counties that make up a 50-mile radius around Fort Smith, Ark. The city of Poteau and the college worked through most of the past decade to make this organization a reality. A five-year planning document for the alliance is currently being completed, and a director, based in Fort Smith, has been hired. The outlook for long-term economic benefits from the alliance for the entire region is excellent.
Connors State College and Muskogee Regional Medical Center – For more than 25 years, MRMC has been a dedicated leader of community and workforce development in the greater Muskogee region and a dynamic partner and clinical affiliate with CSC. This year, MRMC has expanded its support of CSC by providing student internships for academic credit in health care, administration and communications. As an extension of this partnership effort, the leadership at MRMC has provided the academic leadership at CSC with workforce needs data specific to the Muskogee-area health care industry. This has shaped a new set of allied health career program and degree options that will begin graduating and putting students to work in health care as early as fall 2012. This partnership is critical to providing hands-on experience and training that benefits students, potential employers and the community as a whole.
East Central University and Ada Jobs Foundation – AJF provided $1.25 million for the $10.65 million new Harland C. Stonecipher School of Business and ECU Conference Center. This facility will also serve as a storm shelter for Ada. AJF, ECU’s Center of Continuing Education and Community Services and the ECU Veterans Workforce Investment Program also merged to put together a total package for PEI Worldwide. With AJF providing the site and building and ECU providing the link to training and access to veterans for the workforce, PEI is opening a new plant to make THURA-Block, a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-qualifying green product. PEI plans to employ up to 75 employees in its first year and expects 275 employees by the third year. AJF also helped present the first-ever Career Discovery Day at ECU. This event targeted more than 400 eighth graders from all seven Pontotoc County public schools and covered fields from engineering and firefighting to dentistry and construction.
Eastern Oklahoma State College and the City of McAlester – For more than 14 years, EOSC and the city of McAlester have enjoyed a partnership centered on education and community development. This year, McAlester partnered with EOSC on two significant events: the College and Career Tour and the Simonton Job Fair. The career tour was started to help bridge the career connection between schools and the workplace. The event has grown to include more than 1,200 students from southeastern Oklahoma. In addition, business exhibitors now include more than 100 partners from across the state. City officials saw the benefit in this program and felt the lifelong skills students receive make the fair a valuable investment for the community. The job fair was conducted in response to the closing of McAlester’s Simonton Windows plant that resulted in the loss of 250 jobs. EOSC and other community partners, including McAlester, stepped up to host a large job fair for those employees and others in the community.
Langston University and the Langston Economic Development Authority – With a long-standing and rich history of supporting the city of Langston, LEDA has provided funding for street improvements, restoration of historic structures and strengthening of the capacity of the city’s utility department. Most recently, LEDA provided gap funding in the amount of $126,000 to assist LU with the construction of an NCAA-regulation softball field at Langston’s city park. The softball field will serve as the home of LU’s softball team and local youth leagues. Prior to completion of the softball field, LU’s softball team rented space in the nearby cities of Coyle, Guthrie and Perkins to practice and play home games. Plans are currently underway to schedule softball tournaments in the city of Langston. The contributions of LEDA have played a major role in bringing visibility to LU’s softball team, boosting the city of Langston’s economy, attracting new businesses and creating the potential for job growth.
Murray State College and Landmark Bank – Landmark Bank dedicates itself to investing in organizations that support its communities, education and the arts across its system and in the Tishomingo area. Landmark Bank has provided leadership in its communities by having its presidents and staff serve on a variety of boards, including the Johnston County Chamber of Commerce, the Tishomingo Development Team and the Johnston County Industrial Authority. Concern for the citizens of its community is demonstrated through civic leadership, financial contributions and volunteer service. The bank has worked on a variety of economic development projects in many creative ways, including by funding roofs on buildings, a new 35,000-square-foot freezer, equipment and remodeling. Landmark Bank also worked to show MSC how to utilize multiple lenders on the same project, allowing the funding of larger projects to start businesses and create jobs in the community.
Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College and Crossland Construction Co. – Crossland Construction‘s late founder, Ivan Crossland Sr., attended night school at NEO while raising a family, and he and his family became avid supporters of the college. In recent years, Crossland Construction completed a number of projects on the campus and played a vital role in flood recovery. The family was also a major contributor to the funding of the Ivan Crossland Sr. Football Complex. Crossland Construction has been instrumental in the development of an associate degree program in construction technology at NEO. Students can also seek certifications through the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) credentialing program. Students complete the degree requirements through a combination of courses taught at Northeast Technology Center and NEO. Crossland Construction supports the program through internships, scholarships and job opportunities.
Northeastern State University and the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma – NSU, in partnership with the Cherokee Nation, implemented a greatly enhanced Bachelor of Arts in education in Cherokee education with a major in Cherokee in 2011. This language program is the only one of its kind in existence. The program is designed for K-12 teaching positions in Cherokee, producing teachers who are fluent in speaking Cherokee and proficient in the reading and writing of the Cherokee language. The degree also prepares teachers who are knowledgeable and prepared to teach Cherokee culture and heritage. The establishment of the enhanced degree program will create a skilled workforce and an educational environment that will expand and implement the Cherokee language into business and entrepreneurial opportunities. This initiative, along with other Cherokee Nation educational scholarships, provides the necessary financial support for the next generation of Cherokee students.
Northern Oklahoma College and the Tonkawa Tribe – NOC and the Tonkawa Tribe have partnered to develop and implement the Gaming Management Institute (GMI) program. NOC is working with the tribe and its casinos to develop courses and programs to enhance the business-related skills of tribal members who work in the local casinos. Initial funding for the program was provided by a donation from the tribe. Currently, the partnership includes a series of seminars in such areas as conflict resolution, motivation and teamwork. To date, more than 30 casino employees have participated in the seminars. The partnership has also included seminars in accounting-related topics, including casino math, Casino Accounting 101 and internal controls for casinos. Future course work is being developed to include emphasis on customer service, hospitality management and human resource management.
Northwestern Oklahoma State University and the McBride Orthopedic Hospital and Clinic – NWOSU’s longtime partnership with McBride Orthopedic Hospital and Dr. Brock Schnebel, a 1977 alum of the university, provides a place for injured NWOSU Ranger athletes to receive the highest level of care attainable. In addition, McBride physicians serve as team doctors for Ranger athletics, attending many sporting events throughout the year and providing athletes with preseason physicals. “We are extremely fortunate to have our student-athletes cared for by Dr. Schnebel and McBride Orthopedic. Dr. Schnebel’s association with the university spans more than 25 years. They provide outstanding medical care and prevention services in support of Ranger athletics. It is a credit to two of the leading institutions in the state of Oklahoma to have formed this valued partnership,” said Andy Carter, director of athletics.
Oklahoma City Community College and American Fidelity Assurance Co. – Recognizing the importance of advanced credentials, AFA partnered with OCCC to develop the AFA Degree at Work program. This program provides credit courses for employees with the goal of providing them the opportunity to obtain a two-year degree in the convenient setting of their workplace. There are currently 65 students enrolled in this program. Founded more than 50 years ago, AFA has achieved great success as the second-largest private, family-owned life insurance company in the nation. The Oklahoma City-based company serves more than 1 million customers in 49 states and 23 countries.
Oklahoma Panhandle State University and Seaboard Foods – For more than 16 years, OPSU and pork producer Seaboard Foods have enjoyed a partnership centered on workforce development and the education of students. OPSU has provided more than 50 graduates from the schools of agriculture, business and technology, science, math, and nursing for management positions with Seaboard. In addition, more than 15 Seaboard employees are currently attending OPSU. Seaboard and OPSU collaborated on a college career fair held in conjunction with the Art Jubilee for 500 area high school students in April 2011. Seaboard routinely provides educational tours of its production sites and meat processing facilities for OPSU and cooks or provides pork burgers for many OPSU events. The award will be used to support course work by Seaboard employees.
Oklahoma State University and Granna’s LLC – Granna’s, a provider for the Mobile Meals program, first contacted OSU’s Robert M. Kerr Food and Agricultural Products Center (FAPC) in March 2000 with a desire to produce and market frozen chili and other heat and serve foods. FAPC partnered with Granna’s to offer assistance with business planning, formulation scale up and market development. FAPC has also provided process flow planning and equipment identification, food safety training and third-party audit preparation. Subsequent training in food safety and technical assistance continues to date. Additionally, FAPC will be providing food process engineering expertise as Granna’s prepares for a 4,000-square-foot expansion in 2012. Granna’s will use this award to cover training fees for employees and/or continued technical assistance from FAPC.
Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology and the Women in Recovery (WIR) Program – The Tulsa-based WIR program is an innovative alternative to incarceration for nonviolent female offenders with addiction and mental health disorders. Without employment to support themselves and their children, WIR participants are at risk for relapse and possible incarceration. OSUIT’s culinary arts program partners with WIR to provide an on-site culinary employment training program. An OSUIT faculty chef helps participants build kitchen skills and confidence, opening doors to successful culinary careers. Students earn certifications in kitchen-related competencies, enhancing opportunities to pursue careers in the hotel and hospitality industry. The program enables participants to create a better life for themselves and their families, while also generating a positive long-term economic impact for the state of Oklahoma.
Oklahoma State University–Oklahoma City and P&K Equipment – P&K Equipment is the largest John Deere dealership in Oklahoma. P&K Equipment owner Dr. Barry L. Pollard and his wife founded the OSU Medical Cowboys scholarship program and the P&K Professorship in Agribusiness in 2008. P&K Equipment plays an integral part of OSU-OKC’s ability to train students with state-of-the art equipment in the wind turbine and turfgrass management programs. Alan Nietenhoefer, P&K Equipment’s Stillwater site manager, proved indispensable in acquiring equipment for the turfgrass management program. Students benefit by experiencing hands-on training with the latest equipment on the market. The contributions of Scott Eisenhauer, the company’s general manager, were crucial in seeing the wind turbine erected for the new engineering building, which is partially powered by wind energy.
Redlands Community College and Oklahoma Folding Carton and Printing Co. – In 2011, OFC partnered with RCC and Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance’s manufacturing extension agent Mike Raymond to expand its services through the purchase of a new six-color printing press. This new equipment required an 11,000-square-foot expansion and allowed the company to bring all of its prepress operations in-house. This expansion created 15 new jobs and allowed OFC to be accepted into the Oklahoma Quality Jobs Program. Owner Bruce Baade states that through the expansion they have created additional jobs for the citizens of Minco and helped generate new revenue to help support the community. By adding the new prepress machine to its operation, OFC will save more than $250,000 in overtime expenses and will add more than $450,000 in new payroll in the first year.
Rogers State University and the H.A. and Mary K. Chapman Charitable Trusts – Through the Chapman Trusts’ steady support, RSU has renovated classrooms and laboratories serving the sciences and health sciences, including building a fully equipped nursing lab on the Bartlesville campus. RSU also has upgraded these facilities with technologically up-to-date equipment for a program with more than 1,100 nursing and paramedic alumni. These graduates help address Oklahoma’s critical health care needs. Chapman support also spurred development of a bachelor’s degree program in nursing, as well as an RN bridge program that enables licensed practical nurses and paramedics to complete an RN program. The Chapman Trusts recently provided funding for the renovation and expansion of Baird Hall and funding for the construction of a residential dining facility.
Rose State College and First National Bank – Both RSC and FNB share a common agenda to foster, promote and support free enterprise. For instance, FNB established the Henry Croak Endowment for Business and Information Technology in honor of its founder, Henry Croak. Established to perpetuate Croak´s civic and entrepreneurial legacy, the endowment furthers the academic goals of the Business and Information Technology Division at RSC. RSC and its partner are solid champions of Tinker Air Force Base, an economic mainstay. As a testament to FNB’s commitment to the base, FNB is a seven-time recipient of the Air Force Bank of the Year award. A significant supporter of the Rose State Foundation, FNB established its Charity Golf Classic to support student scholarships. Now in its 13th year, the tournament has raised more than $550,000.
Seminole State College, Darlene Wallace and Columbus Oil – The partnership among SSC, Darlene Wallace and Columbus Oil has provided financial support to develop a pond and park area on the north side of the SSC campus. In addition to helping fund the project, Wallace has been the catalyst on a number of projects, including an outside classroom. A trained master gardener, she also provided valuable advice on landscaping. Additionally, Wallace and Columbus Oil established the Dan Wallace Memorial Scholarship through the SSC Educational Foundation to honor the memory of her late husband, an active community supporter who passed away in 2004. Wallace also gives of her time as an active member of the SSC Educational Foundation Board of Trustees. She has served on the foundation’s nominating committee and has worked as an ambassador for SCC at the foundation’s annual golf tournament.
Southeastern Oklahoma State University and Cardinal FG – Cardinal has been a strong supporter in the “Real Life Math!” program, where local professionals take part in high school classrooms to help students answer the question, “When will I ever use this in the real world?” According to Larry Peck, Cardinal human resource executive this gives Cardinal an opportunity to showcase the company and illustrate the value of learning math, which is used every day in the real world. Scholarships are important to Cardinal. Colton’s Run is an event that honors the son of a SE graduate, who died unexpectedly at an SE sports camp. The majority of the proceeds benefit an SE scholarship in Colton’s honor. The Miss Southeastern Pageant is another scholarship co-sponsored by Cardinal. The company was also a title sponsor for the first ice skating rink in Durant. It brought people from more than 100 miles to Durant.
Southwestern Oklahoma State University and Southwest Oklahoma Impact Coalition – SOIC is a regional partnership consisting of the five universities and colleges, six career technology institutions, and two councils of government in southwest Oklahoma. Other partners include local and state economic development organizations. The organization evolved from SWOSU’s willingness to apply for and host a U.S. Economic Development Administration University Center grant to establish the coalition. With a grant funded through the U.S. Department of Labor, SOIC has purchased and placed medical simulators throughout southwest Oklahoma, increasing the number of health care training simulator sites from three to 11. SOIC is currently working on developing a career pathways system at a pilot site in southwest Oklahoma that can be replicated throughout the state.
Tulsa Community College and the City of Glenpool – TCC conducted a master plan study that revealed the high school graduate population in Tulsa was predicted to decline. For continued growth, TCC needed to expand its service to suburban areas. Ironically, shortly thereafter, the city of Glenpool conducted a market study that revealed the need for a community college presence in the city to provide greater access to higher education opportunities. What resulted was the mutually beneficial establishment of the Glenpool Community Campus in fall 2008. From a strong beginning, the campus has served more than 850 students. The unique, mutually beneficial partnership has allowed TCC to develop a stronger presence and provide additional educational opportunities for Glenpool. The city of Glenpool benefits from a better-educated work force leading to greater economic returns.
University of Central Oklahoma and Mercy Health Network – The partnership between UCO and Mercy Health allowed for expanded services at the health center, including radiology services and urgent care capabilities to serve students, staff and faculty along with employee dependents and the surrounding Edmond community. UCO benefits fiscally through redistribution of funding for areas such as health promotion and outreach programs. The collaborative opportunities between Mercy and UCO faculty and staff include Edmond Public Schools’ Boulevard Academy for health education and health assessments through telemedicine and a partnership with Good Shepherd Catholic School serving as a special education clinical site for UCO students training to teach children with autism. Mercy Health is the presenting sponsor for the UCO Healthy Campus initiative and has a partnership to construct the UCO Nursing Expertise Laboratory to be housed at Mercy Health System’s main campus.
University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma and Oklahoma A+ Schools – In 2011, USAO and Oklahoma A+ Schools worked together to enhance curriculum in K-12 classrooms to better promote student collaboration, communication and creative-thinking, decision-making, and problem-solving skills. Throughout the year, 12 A+ teachers and more than 300 K-12 students worked with USAO on such projects as New Invention Ideas, Improving Our Community and Our Local History. This partnership developed a collaborative, online program to facilitate the creation and assessment of student-driven projects. Plans are now being made to increase the number of Oklahoma A+ Schools in the program and to provide tools for classrooms across the state to work together in real time on a variety of student-led projects.
Western Oklahoma State College and Red River Flight Academy – WOSC has a long-standing history in aviation education. However, due to the economic climate, WOSC contemplated discontinuation of this high-cost program. In spite of the economics, the community support and demand for the program inspired WOSC to maintain the professional pilot degree program. The continuation of this program was made possible through a partnership with RRFA. This partnership allows WOSC to offer the only Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-approved, Part 141 flight school in southwestern Oklahoma. This partnership increases opportunities for individuals in rural southwest Oklahoma to receive an Associate in Applied Science degree in aviation with a professional pilot option.
More details about the partnerships will be available on the State Regents’ website at www.okhighered.org/econ-dev.