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. Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell, State Regents’ Chair Jack Sherry, State Regent Ann Holloway, and Chancellor Allison D. Garrett participated in the ceremony, held March 7 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.

“Producing more workforce-ready graduates by partnering with the business community and connecting students to the workforce is fundamental to meeting Oklahoma’s future workforce needs,” said Garrett. “We are proud to recognize these partnerships, which demonstrate successful collaborations with public, private and nonprofit partners to strengthen Oklahoma’s economy.”

The partnerships recognized for 2024 are:

Cameron University and Arvest Bank
Cameron University’s partnership with Arvest Bank has been ongoing for more than 20 years and remains strong today. Arvest supports CU in events ranging from athletics to the arts. Most recently, Arvest provided the lead gift that assisted in the establishment of the Cameron University Banking Institute (CUBI), which connects students to the financial industry in southwest Oklahoma and ties classroom learning to real-world application. Additionally, the Arvest Ignite Intern Program provides summer intern experiences for students that can lead to full-time employment.

Carl Albert State College and the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services
Through Carl Albert State College’s partnership with the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (ODMHSAS), an ODMHSAS field service coordinator is placed in CASC’s Poteau campus wellness center, The Harbor. This staff member works not only across the campus, but also in the community and region. This embedded model ensures seamless coordination and planning of services, including convening training events and leveraging resources and opportunities for effective collaboration across the region and the state, and strategically supports CASC’s whole campus approach to student mental health.

Connors State College and Saint Francis Health Systems
Connors State College and Saint Francis Health Systems are longtime partners in meeting community workforce needs. Since 2017, the two organizations have worked collaboratively to address the critical necessity for qualified registered nurses in Oklahoma. After completing a $500,000 pledge over five years, Saint Francis Health Systems remains committed to the success of students in the CSC nursing program and currently provides two instructors for on-site clinical programs at its expense. Saint Francis Health Systems is an essential partner for CSC to expand the nursing program and provides a valuable service to students.

East Central University and Pontotoc Technology Center
The Pontotoc Technology Center (PTC) biotechnology program and the East Central University College of Health Sciences have collaborated through an internship program, exposing students to research while leveraging the applied skills gained in the PTC biotech program to advance cutting-edge research at ECU. PTC provides video production, construction of athletic facilities, and the use of PTC facilities for cross-country events. PTC has also been a great academic resource; in addition to the biotech program, ECU and PTC have academic agreements in nursing, information technology, and mass communication.

Eastern Oklahoma State College and City of Wilburton
Eastern Oklahoma State College and the City of Wilburton have built a partnership centered around community events, planning, promotion, and economic development. The city involves the college in economic development efforts and connects businesses to resources on EOSC’s campus. The city is part of the Oklahoma Small Business Development Center’s Four County Consortium that advances workforce development alongside EOSC. Mayor Loran Mayes serves on EOSC’s Foundation board. Their partnership has earned grant awards, interested developers, supported businesses, and attracted tourists.

Langston University and Griffin Media
In 2022, Langston University announced that Griffin Media made the largest corporate donation in university history, gifting the university its KWTV News 9 building. This gift included a fully operational television studio, complete with the land and the equipment that is now housed on LU’s Oklahoma City campus. The site is also home to LU’s Center for Media and Community Advancement, funded in part with a grant from the Inasmuch Foundation. Through Griffin Media’s generosity, LU students receive training with state-of-the-art equipment that will prepare them for employment after graduation.

Murray State College and SouthernTech
Murray State College and SouthernTech joined forces to change the educational landscape for students in southern Oklahoma. Leaders have integrated streamlined processes and established educational pathways with student success at the forefront, including in nursing education. MSC and SouthernTech are collaborating with the Ardmore Development Authority (ADA) in a series of South-Central Workforce Summits to address opportunities and barriers to workforce development. MSC and SouthernTech are working with the ADA to establish clear pathways for employees impacted by the Michelin plant wind-down announced in October, including reemployment, education, entrepreneurship and retirement.

Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College and City of Miami
The City of Miami and Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College’s partnership has resulted in notable infrastructure improvements both on and around campus, including remodeling Red Robertson Field and the Miami Multi-Purpose Event Complex and improvements to lighting and streets around NEO. The partnership extends to campus safety initiatives fostered through collaboration between the Miami and NEO police departments. The city is also a vital partner to the Oklahoma Small Business Development Center housed on the NEO campus. The city continues to invest in NEO through the Miami Community Facilities Authority and support NEO Foundation events and scholarship fundraisers.

Northeastern State University and City of Broken Arrow
The City of Broken Arrow has a longstanding history of supporting Northeastern State University. Since opening the doors of the NSU Broken Arrow campus, NSU and the city have worked together to educate the workforce and bring in new businesses to support the local economy. The city provided a $26 million package to expand the campus and the highly respected degree programs synonymous with NSU’s rich history. Recently, the city and NSU partnered to land a 12,500-capacity amphitheater — a $71.5 million project to be built adjacent to the campus. This project will provide NSU an annual revenue stream and students with high-quality internships and interactions with national touring production companies.

Northern Oklahoma College and First National Bank of Oklahoma
A proud Tonkawa business partner with a strong belief in the value of higher education, First National Bank of Oklahoma has made meaningful contributions to Northern Oklahoma College’s educational endeavors, including Presidential Partners, agriculture and biological science programs, the Affinity Card program, and the FNB Employee Scholarship. FNB has sponsored men’s and women’s basketball, cheer, soccer and softball, and a generous FNB contribution allowed NOC to start men’s and women’s wrestling in 2024. FNB employees generously share their expertise, serving on academic advisory and alumni committees and the NOC Foundation board.

Northwestern Oklahoma State University and Alva Public Schools and Cherokee Public Schools
Northwestern Oklahoma State University’s Division of Education thrives through a dynamic partnership with Alva Public Schools and Cherokee Public Schools. The Roy Vayle and Leah Beisel Evans Literacy Center on the NWOSU campus provides free tutoring to students, pairing each student with a dedicated tutor who designs individualized instruction under the guidance and support of teacher education faculty. This partnership gives aspiring educators invaluable experience, while local schools benefit from the skills and dedication of NWOSU’s faculty and future teachers. APS and CPS personnel assist with teacher education entrance and exit interviews, serve as guest speakers, mentor students during field experiences, and provide mentor teachers for student teachers.

Oklahoma City Community College (OCCC) and Oklahoma City Fire Department
The partnership between Oklahoma City Community College Emergency Medical Services and the Oklahoma City Fire Department is a pivotal alliance designed to enhance Oklahoma’s entry-level paramedic workforce. Through this collaboration, the partners synchronize curriculum development, practical training, and skill enhancement. OCCC ensures comprehensive paramedic education while OKC Fire contributes practical insights, enabling real-world scenario exposure for students. The partnership fosters a seamless transition for graduates into the workforce and elevates the standard of emergency medical care in Oklahoma City by producing highly skilled, job-ready paramedics.

Oklahoma Panhandle State University and Golden Mesa Casino
Golden Mesa Casino has supported Oklahoma Panhandle State University athletics and the business department and, more importantly, is a leading partner in regional workforce development. Golden Mesa Casino has provided scholarships for employees to take additional business classes at OPSU, and in 2023, assisted OPSU in funding scholarships for a new micro-credential program for its employees. Golden Mesa Casino also offers OPSU’s students top priority in the interview process for employment with flexible schedules around classes and internships for OPSU students in various operational areas.

Oklahoma State University and Osage LLC
The Innovation Foundation at Oklahoma State University, through its Oklahoma Aerospace Institute for Research and Education (OAIRE) and Osage LLC, secured a $38.2 million grant for the Tulsa Regional Advanced Mobility Cluster. This established the Skyway Range, which connects the Osage Nation’s Skyway36 Droneport, OAIRE’s Unmanned Aircraft Flight Station, and two additional nodes in the region. OAIRE and the Osage Nation’s partnership on the Skyway Range facilitates real-world testing of advanced air mobility and drone capabilities in urban and suburban settings. The grant also establishes OAIRE’s LaunchPad Center, which aims to provide essential resources for transitioning innovations from early stages to practical field testing and validation, benefiting researchers, students, companies, and startups.

Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology and Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma
In July 2023, the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma’s Division of Commerce teamed up with Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology for a one-of-a-kind partnership, offering Choctaw Casinos & Resorts food and beverage associates culinary training and college course credit. If associates decide to pursue further certification or degree programs with OSUIT, they will receive prior learning credit toward their educational goals. The Choctaw Nation provides resources to help its citizens pursue the education they choose. OSUIT has been privileged to serve as a major education resource for the Choctaw Nation, including talent acquisition strategies and numerous learning development opportunities.

Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City and AT&T
AT&T created the Public Safety Scholarship program at Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City to help inspire and prepare the next generation of first responders in Oklahoma. AT&T will offer $1,000 scholarships to 25 OSU-OKC students in either the Health Sciences Division or the Human Services Division seeking to earn specific first responder degrees and/or certificates. The FirstNet® program is one reason AT&T chose to support OSU-OKC programs. AT&T’s FirstNet® is the only network built with and for first responders and those who support them; it is designed to fit communication needs with transformative mission critical solutions to modernize public safety.

Redlands Community College and Russell-Murray Hospice
Russell-Murray Hospice (RMH) is an open access, non-profit organization serving a 75-mile radius surrounding El Reno. RMH is led by a Redlands Community College nursing graduate, Vicki Myers. The RCC nursing program formed a partnership with RMH in 2013 to offer nursing students hospice care clinical experiences. RCC’s nursing program has collaborated with RMH to provide clinical experiences for nursing students, and Myers is an active member of RCC’s Nursing Advisory Council. The partnership allows RCC’s nursing students to experience how to compassionately care for individuals at the end of their lifespan and work with nurses who make a difference in the community.

Rogers State University and Claremore Economic Development
Claremore Economic Development and Rogers State University have a successful track record of working together to grow the economies of the city of Claremore and Rogers County. Through a pilot program with the Department of Commerce, the partners provided scholarships to Rogers County residents to enroll in courses leading to micro-credentials to address critical workforce needs. This initiative aims to provide a pathway for those interested in advancing their education beyond a high school diploma. In addition, Claremore Economic Development was a strong advocate for RSU’s new chemical engineering program and continues to support RSU’s initiative to serve as the host of American Legion Boys State.

Rose State College and 72nd Air Base Wing and Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex, Tinker Air Force Base
Rose State College and the 72nd Air Base Wing and Oklahoma City ALC, TAFB have formalized a strategic alliance to advance STEM education and enhance additive manufacturing instruction. The Tinker Reverse Engineering and Critical Tooling (REACT) Lab generously donated a cutting-edge 3D printer to RSC, marking a significant stride in advancing instruction and student success. The printer allows the exploration of intricate and geometrically complex structures and is compatible with metals, ceramics and polymers, opening opportunities for research and development projects and contributing to the evolution of additive manufacturing education at RSC.

Seminole State College and Seminole Tourism Council
For the past 25 years, the Seminole Tourism Council has supported projects to attract visitors to Seminole and boost the local economy, including funding over 100 events, programs, building projects, and marketing activities. Over the last decade, the Council has directed funds to support the creation, development, operation and improvement of SSC’s community sports complex. This $12 million facility has been a catalyst for other economic development, including a new housing addition, a hotel, two restaurants and a family fun center. The Council matched college funds for a dedicated position to support operations and events at the complex and has funded various enhancement projects.

Southeastern Oklahoma State University and Choctaw Nation Small Business Development
The mission of Choctaw Nation Small Business Development is to create new jobs and economic growth within the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma communities. Tribal members are provided specialized one-on-one advising services, access to business training, networking, and business resources. The collaboration between Choctaw Small Business Development and the Oklahoma Small Business Development Center hosted by SEOSU has resulted in joint events and trainings, reciprocal referrals, mutual promotion of resources, and the co-advisement of clients. Since inception, Choctaw Nation Small Business Development has assisted with 311 business starts, 205 business expansions, and 1,596 new jobs.

Southwestern Oklahoma State University and INTEGRIS Health
INTEGRIS Health and Southwestern Oklahoma State University celebrate a partnership based on establishing tuition support opportunities for first-semester enrollees in a SWOSU nursing program. The partnership is intended for INTEGRIS Health caregivers who seek degrees through SWOSU’s LPN – RN/BSN program, RN-to-BSN program, traditional BSN program, and MSN program. SWOSU’s partnership with INTEGRIS Health strengthens the institution’s commitment to helping Oklahoma meet critical workforce needs. Tuition assistance offered by INTEGRIS Health will make a lifelong impact in the lives of SWOSU students.

Tulsa Community College and Tulsa Innovation Labs
Since 2020, Tulsa Innovation Labs (TIL) has partnered with Tulsa Community College with the mission of establishing a city-wide strategy for inclusive, tech-led growth. In 2022, TIL and TCC launched the Cyber Skills Center at TCC with edX and Madison Strategies Group. The program is designed to develop a diverse group of individuals with the technology skills needed for the rapidly expanding career fields of cybersecurity and data analytics at no cost to qualifying Tulsa-area residents. In June 2023, the first cohort of 34 individuals graduated from the program. The average age of graduates was 36, 40% were women, and 60% identified as part of historically underserved or underrepresented groups.

University of Central Oklahoma and Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma
The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma (RFBO) and the University of Central Oklahoma have partnered for the last 11 years to help address campus food insecurity through the Central Pantry, UCO’s on-campus food pantry. In 2012, UCO and RFBO started Oklahoma’s first college campus affiliate pantry. Since then, RFBO’s partnership and support has been invaluable to supporting the more than 55% of UCO’s students who identify as food insecure — meaning they do not know where their next meal will come from. The partnership ensures UCO students have food from week to week and provides support for resources that allow UCO students to stay in class and remain healthy and on the road to graduation.

University of Oklahoma and Weathernews Inc.
Weathernews Inc. (WNI) has been a long-time partner of the University of Oklahoma, focused on radar, weather and climate applications. WNI has two Innovation Centers — one in Japan and one at the OU University Research Campus in Norman (Oklahoma Innovation Center) — for researching and developing methods to analyze observation data for natural phenomena. Weathernews and OU recently jointly hosted the 12th annual Technical Workshop at the National Weather Center, and WNI has established the Weathernews endowed chair and Weathernews endowed scholarship. WNI’s Oklahoma Innovation Center has hired many OU alumni, and a WNI staff member is pursuing a doctorate in electrical engineering at OU.

University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma and The First National Bank & Trust Co.
Founded in 1892, First National Bank & Trust Co. is Grady County’s oldest business enterprise. FNBT and the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma have demonstrated true partnership for more than a century. With a strong belief in the value of higher education, FNBT supports USAO by sponsoring the university’s arts, athletics and academics. In recent years, the bank’s innovative Team Spirit Card has served USAO by providing a donation to the university each time the card is used. The bank also provides annual internship opportunities for students. Notably, over one dozen FNBT officers are proud USAO graduates.

Western Oklahoma State College and Western Oklahoma State College Foundation
For five decades, the Western Oklahoma State College Foundation has been a critical partner to Western Oklahoma State College. Established in 1974 as a nonprofit corporation, the Foundation promotes and fosters WOSC’s educational and cultural interests through endowments, loans, scholarships, and other types of financial assistance. Since 1991, Executive Secretary Larry Duffy has provided instrumental leadership, which has enabled the Foundation’s total assets to reach more than $7 million. Duffy’s passion for education, coupled with tremendous support from alumni and friends, has provided over $4 million in institutional support and scholarships to WOSC and its students.

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