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Twenty-seven business and higher education partnerships throughout the state were recently recognized as innovative collaborations that further the education of Oklahoma’s workforce.

The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education’s Regents Business Partnership Excellence Award is designed to highlight successful partnerships between higher education institutions, businesses, and the community to further cultivate the higher learning environment through State Regents’ Economic Development Grants. State Regents’ Chair Michael C. Turpen, State Regent Courtney Warmington, State Regent Steven W. Taylor, and Chancellor Allison D. Garrett participated in the ceremony, held April 27 at the University of Central Oklahoma.

Institutions involved in these partnerships provide $500 for tuition waivers to employees of the partnering businesses; internships that enable current students 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.

“Our colleges and universities continue collaborating successfully with public, private and nonprofit partners to strengthen economic and workforce development across Oklahoma,” said Garrett. “Producing more workforce-ready graduates by increasing communication with employers and connecting students to the workforce sooner is a fundamental goal of Blueprint 2030, the State Regents’ new strategic plan for public higher education. We are proud to recognize these partnerships and their positive impact on Oklahoma businesses and communities.”

The partnerships recognized for 2023 are:

Cameron University and Fires Innovation Science and Technology

Through Cameron University’s partnership with the Fires Innovation Science and Technology Accelerator (FISTA), CU, FISTA and other local entities are collaborating to meet workforce needs in southwest Oklahoma. The FISTA Innovation Park houses technology companies, defense contractors and learning institutions that support defense operations. The Innovation Park offers 200,000 square feet of space for defense technology industries and helps defense businesses build relationships and share resources. FISTA anticipates 150 high-tech jobs within two years of opening, and an estimated 275 service, retail and other ancillary jobs will be added to the Lawton Fort Sill community. The total economic impact is expected to be $50 million. 

Carl Albert State College and the Cherokee Nation

Carl Albert State College received a donation from the Cherokee Nation to enhance the Child Development Program at CASC. This gift will expand offerings and capabilities in this academic area, particularly in virtual delivery formats, so more Cherokee students, families, and childcare workers may have accessible means for growth and enrichment. This goal will be achieved through the creation and implementation of innovative virtual child development classrooms and labs. These classrooms and labs will provide multi-level opportunities for students to learn and obtain the necessary skills to work with children from infancy through preschool age.

Connors State College and the Cherokee Nation

Connors State College, in collaboration with the Cherokee Nation, is addressing the nursing shortage with the Career Ladder program. For Career Ladder students, prior learning credit is awarded for first- and second-semester nursing courses. The partnership reduces the cost to those students seeking to advance their education and increase their credentials. The Cherokee Nation has provided CSC with a donation for the nursing program to grow the local workforce and provide additional education and training for healthcare professionals serving patients in northeast Oklahoma. The Cherokee Nation also continues to ensure cultural identity and development of the tribally enrolled student population remains supported.

East Central University and the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma

The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma (RFBO) and East Central University have partnered to address food insecurity among ECU students. Through virtual methods and the steady partnership, the Food Bank at ECU was able to reopen and serve students in need during COVID-19. RFBO allows ECU to obtain food at a lower cost to serve more students and their families. ECU Food Bank utilizes the box distribution method, and each box of food is tailored to the specific needs of each recipient. RFBO’s partnership with ECU allows students to focus on education and not food insecurities. 

Eastern Oklahoma State College and The Puterbaugh Foundation

Eastern Oklahoma State College and The Puterbaugh Foundation have partnered to provide top-tier nursing instruction and produce graduates who have the most advanced training and experience. The Puterbaugh Foundation provides annual scholarships and funds to pay for students’ National Council Licensure Examination, and dedicated $306,000 last year for equipment and technology upgrades in the nursing skills labs. EOSC purchased new clinical simulation manikins for scenario-based patient care, defibrillator simulation machines, IV training arms and pumps, and additional skills equipment and supplies. The donation also supports a nursing program retention specialist who provides student coaching and mentoring.

Langston University and ImageNet Consulting

ImageNet Consulting has enjoyed a longstanding relationship with Langston University that has spanned more than 20 years. Initially, ImageNet’s consultants worked with LU administrators to reduce the volume of printing at the university. This had a positive impact on printing expenses while making the campus more efficient. Secondly, ImageNet initiated a digital transformation involving many paper-based processes on campus by converting these to an electronic format. Finally, the consulting firm is in the process of working with personnel to deploy and manage digital displays and content around campus at various strategic points.

Murray State College and the Chickasaw Nation

The partnership between Murray State College and the Chickasaw Nation focuses on education and economic development. Chickasaw Hall will become a 14-room hotel and site of the Chokka` Kilimpi` Recruitment and Retention program for Native American students. The $5 million project has been funded by the Chickasaw Nation and Economic Development Administration. This facility will create 96 employment positions and serve as a living laboratory for the institution’s hospitality management program. MSC was recently honored with the Heart of Conservation award from the Chickasaw Nation for its dedication to ensuring natural resource stewardship in its communities.

Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College and the Wyandotte Nation

The Wyandotte Nation provides financial and cultural support for AICE, the Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College American Indian Center of Excellence, which serves the Native American and Alaskan Native student population. The Wyandotte Nation partnered with other community stakeholders to establish the Oklahoma Small Business Development Center on the NEO campus. The center provides small business advising at no cost. The Wyandotte Nation donated $100,000 to the NEO nursing program to upgrade technology and equipment. Many of the nurses employed by the Wyandotte Nation are NEO nursing graduates. The tribe supports NEO Foundation events and scholarship fundraisers.

Northeastern State University and the Cherokee Nation

In addition to funding scholarships for Cherokee students at Northeastern State University, tribal leaders donated $300,000 for a renovation project which will allow the NSU Center of Tribal Studies to relocate to better serve Native American students. Last year, the Cherokee Nation donated $5 million to the NSU Oklahoma College of Optometry Vision for the Future campaign, which will create a new facility for Oklahoma’s only optometry college and the Cherokee Nation’s comprehensive and quality eye care provider. Cherokee leaders bolstered support of its longtime NSU partner with a gift of $4 million to help restore Seminary Hall for future generations.

Northern Oklahoma College and the Allen Family Charitable Foundation

The Allen Family Charitable Foundation has invested in Northern Oklahoma College by contributing to student scholarships and grants through the Enid Higher Education Council and Enid Entrepreneurship Leadership Series. The Foundation donated funds to establish the Allen Family Opportunity Scholarship through the Cherokee Strip Community Foundation to help students earn a degree. The Foundation also provided funding for the Advance Soccer Complex, the Failing Field turf, the Integris Indoor Baseball Facility, and the David Allen Memorial Ballpark, which hosts the NJCAA Division II College World Series and is home to the NOC Jets baseball team.

Northwestern Oklahoma State University and FORVIS

FORVIS provides internships for Northwestern Oklahoma State University students, matches scholarship dollars that are awarded, and provides experts in the field to speak to classes at the university. FORVIS company partners Doug Van Meter and Chad Moore are both graduates of NWOSU. Doug served as the financial services industry leader for the company’s four state South Region and formed an endowed chair in accounting in 2014, and Chad is an audit and consulting advisor who, with Doug, also created an accounting lectureship in 2014.

Oklahoma City Community College and The City of Oklahoma City

The City of Oklahoma City General Services Department and Fleet Services Division are integral partners in the development and support of the Alternative Fuels Training Program at Oklahoma City Community College. As alternative fuel sources increase, so does the need for certified technicians to safely maintain these systems. OCCC and its partners have pioneered certification training programs for compressed natural gas vehicles and compressor fueling stations, liquefied petroleum gas vehicles, and electric vehicles. The city donated two electric vehicles to the program, which prepares automotive students, current automotive technicians, fleet maintenance professionals and compressor technicians.

Oklahoma Panhandle State University and Seaboard Foods

Oklahoma Panhandle State University and Seaboard Foods have worked together for over 25 years to improve workforce development. Seaboard Foods is dedicated to serving the local community by supporting charities and organizations and providing academic resources to OPSU. Seaboard Foods plays an important role in the education of students in the university’s agriculture and business programs by offering internships, tours, work opportunities and recruiting at college fairs. The company’s “Winternship” Program gives students a hands-on experience in the industry and provides networking opportunities with company experts. Many OPSU students secure management-level positions at Seaboard Foods before graduation.

Oklahoma State University and Continental Resources

Continental Resources and the Harold Hamm Foundation donated a combined $50 million gift to Oklahoma State University to create the Hamm Institute for American Energy in Oklahoma City. The Hamm Institute is committed to create the next generation of clean, affordable, reliable and responsibly produced energy for our world. Continental Resources provides valuable industry experience, perspective and knowledge. The Hamm Institute hosts symposiums, authors, speakers, energy summits and global energy leadership conversations. Innovative solutions and opportunities resulting from university-industry engagement benefit industry partners, entrepreneurs, and the state of Oklahoma, including new energy sector jobs and qualified OSU graduates to fill them.

Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology and Xalter

Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology’s partnership with Xalter began in 2020 when Xalter wanted to expand its enterprise training virtual reality (VR) business, and OSU-IT needed to develop a hands-on training experience for students unable to attend in person. Xalter created five VR based training modules for OSU-IT and developed a VR based escape room for cybersecurity basic training principles funded by a $150K Epic Mega Grant. Xalter is a presence on campus and interacts with students and faculty to learn about industry procedures. Xalter has sponsored internships, served on advisory committees and assisted in the implementation of VR headsets throughout campus.

Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City and Bear Cognition

Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City’s partnership with Bear Cognition is vital to OSU-OKC’s commitment to leverage data to drive improvement in performance and service to stakeholders. The company has provided OSU-OKC with real-time access to world-class data scientists and actionable intelligence. Bear Cognition representatives play central roles addressing current and emergent workforce needs. Teams collaborate with the institution on identifying the competencies needed in the areas of data analysis, project management and effective business processes. Such insights are invaluable to OSU-OKC’s development and implementation of new programming that connects the institution’s diverse student population with rewarding, high-demand career opportunities.

Redlands Community College and Coleman Television

Redlands Community College is working with Coleman Television to provide student internships and to assist in the development of digital video and audio production training micro-credentials and a Certificate of Mastery. Coleman Television, now headquartered on the RCC campus, is an award-winning producer of documentaries. RCC offers courses and internships to give students real-world experience in documentary filmmaking and film and video editing. El Reno has been the site of many television and film productions over the past few years, providing RCC students hands-on experiences that will help them start careers quickly in the field.

Rogers State University and Saint Francis Health System

Through the partnership with Saint Francis Health System, students in Rogers State University’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing program are able to complete the required number of clinical hours in a variety of health care settings. Saint Francis works with RSU nursing students, who complete all clinical experiences at a Saint Francis facility. Approximately 30% of RSU nursing program graduates work for Saint Francis after graduation. In 2022, Saint Francis sponsored RSU Foundation’s largest annual fundraising event, providing thousands of dollars in scholarships for students. Many students receive scholarships to help them achieve their goal of becoming a registered nurse.

Rose State College and Delaware Resource Group

Rose State College and Delaware Resource Group’s (DRG) partnership began when DRG, a leading global aerospace defense contractor based in Oklahoma City, approached the college with time-sensitive Department of Defense (DoD) cybersecurity requirement needs. RSC tailored curriculum for a dozen DRG specialists whose positions were at risk if they failed to meet the timeline for baseline IT certification. The training afforded DRG the latitude necessary to maintain an operational schedule while simultaneously delivering the essential elements needed to certify personnel. Nearly 80% of DRG specialists in the RSC course passed their exams. The initiative opened the door for continuing education, micro-credentialing, and other industry-related cyber certifications.

Seminole State College and the Avedis Foundation

The Avedis Foundation has partnered with Seminole State College to improve the economy, health and quality of life of Seminole and surrounding communities. The Avedis Foundation helped the SSC Educational Foundation build an athletic complex for college and youth baseball, softball and soccer. The complex provides fields for two SSC athletic programs and a special adaptive field for children and adults with physical and emotional challenges. The Avedis Field will be home to Seminole’s “A League of Their Own” baseball season for children with disabilities. The Adaptive Field will also provide mentoring and volunteer experiences for students. 

Southeastern Oklahoma State University and Durant Industrial Authority

Durant Industrial Authority (DIA) partnered with the Oklahoma Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Southeastern Oklahoma State University to develop Small Business Bootcamp, a small business retention and expansion program. DIA invested $200,000 for $5,000 grants to participating small businesses. Entrepreneurs were required to complete the Bootcamp or 30 hours of SBDC training and technical assistance. An additional $60,000 was provided to be awarded for technology upgrades. The Oklahoma SBDC developed curriculum for the program to educate small businesses in business plan development, financial projections, cash flow analysis, marketing, store design, business continuity, cyber security, human resources, and e-commerce. 

Southwestern Oklahoma State University and Delaware Resource Group

Southwestern Oklahoma State University partnered with Delaware Resource Group (DRG), a leading global aerospace defense contractor based in Oklahoma City, to launch its aerospace and defense workforce initiative. The initiative promotes current students and degrees as well as the university’s rich aerospace and defense heritage. SWOSU launched the initiative with DRG partners and longtime benefactors to ensure prospective students and employers from around the world are aware of SWOSU degree opportunities for students striving to excel in aerospace and defense. 

Tulsa Community College and Cox Communications

Cox Communications funds Tulsa Community College through donations and sponsors Clearing the Pathway: The Campaign for Completion. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Cox provided free WiFi in the parking lots of the TCC Metro Campus so students could complete assignments and attend classes. Cox consistently offers discounted internet services to TCC students and schools in the community. Cox covers costs for all selected participants in the Cox Small Business Leadership Academy, which is designed for all small business owners and leaders with an emphasis to empower businesses owned by minorities, veterans, women, Native Americans, and individuals with disabilities.

University of Central Oklahoma and Tinker Air Force Base

Tinker Air Force Base (TAFB) has multiple partnerships with the University of Central Oklahoma that aid in economic development, increase stakeholder engagement, and promote student success. UCO signed an Education Partnership Agreement with the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex at TAFB resulting in the donation of a supercomputer cluster, which expands UCO’s capability to perform computational research and to collaborate with TAFB to meet workforce needs. TAFB also has a partnership with the UCO Department of Information Systems and Operations Management to enhance the TAFB Supply Chain Management Group. Many UCO students intern and continue their careers at TAFB.

University of Oklahoma and Boeing

The University of Oklahoma partners with The Boeing Company to support collaborative research efforts and hands-on experiences for students to solve real-world challenges. Boeing representatives contribute to curriculum development, serve on OU’s advisory boards, and assist with university outreach and student retention by funding high school student activities on campus. Boeing’s support ensures the next generation of Oklahomans excel in high-value and high-paying positions. By opening doors to Boeing’s world-class facility, students and faculty are at the forefront of innovative research. Boeing is a top hiring company for student internships and full-time employment.

University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma and the City of Chickasha

The City of Chickasha and the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma collaborated on internships for students, joint tourism, and other community ventures. Mayor and Board of Regents chair Chris Mosely and the director of Chickasha’s Economic Development Council (EDC), Jim Cowan, fostered a working relationship with the university and created internship programs to promote the hiring of Science & Arts students. Science & Arts offers the community opportunities to earn micro-credentials to advance their skills in the workforce. The university works with the city and Chickasha’s EDC to forge community partnerships focused on the revitalization of Chickasha’s commercial district.

Western Oklahoma State College and Altus Air Force Base

Through its relationship with Altus Air Force Base (AAFB), Western Oklahoma State College collaborated with the Communications Squadron to address workforce needs in cybersecurity and information technology. WOSC became an Authorized Academy Partner with CompTIA and developed a non-credit bearing micro-credential in Security+. Active duty and civilian students received a full scholarship for the class and the certificate exam cost. AAFB served as a partner for WOSC’s Workforce Readiness Summit and Career Fair, which provided foundational sessions, guided participants to a career path, and taught best practices for interviewing and resume writing.

For more information about RBPEA and this year’s partnerships, visit