WILBURTON, OK (Aug. 23, 2021) – 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 partnership between Eastern Oklahoma State College and Great Western Dining Service, Inc. was recognized with a 2021 Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education’s Regents Business Partnership Excellence Award. The 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.
"Despite the challenges of the 2020-21 academic year, our colleges and universities persisted in cultivating meaningful partnerships with public, private and nonprofit organizations,” said Chancellor Glen D. Johnson. “The State Regents are proud to celebrate the impact of these partnerships on the workforce in our communities and the economic development of our state. Collaborations between businesses and our state system institutions advance Oklahoma’s efforts to build the skilled workforce required to compete in today’s global economy."
Eastern and Great Western Dining Service partnered in 2017 to offer meal service to the Wilburton campus and community. The partnership increased EOSC’s dining options for the campus and community with expanded menu options, unlimited servings for students and monthly celebration dinners for holidays. Great Western Dining employs 23 individuals which has expanded workforce opportunities for the surrounding communities and created part-time job opportunities for students. The organization also provides a much-needed catering and dining service for local businesses and service organizations, with few options available in a small, rural area. Great Western Dining has also been a generous supporter of EOSC’s annual Sapphire Ball, serving as a lead sponsor and providing the meal for the annual black-tie scholarship fundraiser. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Great Western Dining made the necessary changes to provide a safe and healthy dining experience for students, faculty, staff and the community.
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.