The University of Oklahoma’s College of Professional and Continuing Studies Department of Aviation and Envoy Airlines were highlighted as one of the state’s key higher education and business partnerships for their Pilot Pipeline Program at the annual Oklahoma State Regents Business Partnership Excellence Award Luncheon on Tuesday, March 13, at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond.
The Regents Business Partnership Excellence Award is designed to highlight successful partnerships and to further cultivate the higher learning environment through the Regents’ Economic Development Grants. Submissions are provided by the state’s institutions and reviewed by a committee of State Regents staff and the EDC Regents Business Partnership Excellence Award committee to ensure the integrity of the program.
“We benchmarked the armed forces ROTC-like concept, where airlines could mentor future graduates while they were still in college. The concept costs very little, except for quality time, and provides so many benefits to both the students, the program and the employer."
The OU/Envoy Pilot Pipeline Program, which launched in Summer 2013, was the first agreement of its kind inked by a public university in the United States. It gives qualifying OU aviation students the opportunity to launch their regional or major airline careers with Envoy by providing recruitment, screening, selection, training and placement strategies for students. Since the program’s inception, numerous OU graduates have joined the ranks at Envoy Airlines, with more than 60 students currently taking part in the program.
OU Director of Aviation Ken Carson said he and OU Aviation Advisory Board member Trevor Johnson, formerly of American Eagle and now at American Airlines, envisioned the program in 2011 in response to a wave of major airline retirements that were due in 2015. The retirements would require new, creative approaches to the onboarding of future pilots to regional airlines and address the need to provide professional mentorship to new first officer hires.
“A logical way to approach this was to create the pipeline relationship,” Carson said. “We benchmarked the armed forces ROTC-like concept, where airlines could mentor future graduates while they were still in college. The concept costs very little, except for quality time, and provides so many benefits to both the students, the program and the employer.
“As we move forward into our fifth year, we are looking at even more ways to enhance the program, so that graduates are ready to enter the airline.”
Accepting the Oklahoma Regents Business Partnership Award Tuesday (L-R):
- Dr. Shad Satterthwaite – Associate Dean, OU College of Professional and Continuing Studies
- Josh Thomas – OU alum and Envoy Airlines OU Recruiting Rep
- Marie Didonna – Program Manager Pilot Recruitment, Envoy Airlines
- Natalie Nielsen – Director of Pilot Recruitment, Envoy Airlines
- Shelly Ainsworth – OU Aviation Advising Office
- Martha Banz – Dean, OU College of Professional and Continuing Studies
- David Lodes – Chief Flight Instructor, OU Department of Aviation
- Ken Carson – Director, OU Department of Aviation