Seminole State College and Kontoor Brands, Inc./Wrangler were among colleges, schools and businesses honored during a Business Partnership Excellence Awards Luncheon held March 9 at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond.
The award, sponsored by Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education (OSRHE), annually honors outstanding partnerships that lead to significant contributions in educating and developing Oklahoma’s workforce.
Comments were made at the event by Oklahoma Higher Education Chancellor Allison Garrett. The recognition of honorees was conducted by State Regent and former state Attorney General Mike Turpen.
From the days of the first sewing room opening in Seminole in 1961 under the company name of Blue Bell until today, Seminole State College and Wrangler/Kontoor have had a storied partnership.
The 1970s brought steady growth to the company, community and the college. In 1971, the Blue Bell sewing plant donated $10,000 to start a women’s basketball program at then Seminole Junior College. This was one year before Title IX was mandated, ensuring young women the right to participate in collegiate athletics. This revolutionary act set in motion a program that would change lives for years to come. The Belles were the first junior college program in Oklahoma to award basketball scholarships to female athletes. As the basketball team selected uniforms, they adopted the name and company colors of the organization that gave them their start.
In 1986, VF Brands purchased Blue Bell and changed the name of the company to Wrangler which began another round of expansions that continued for the next 10 years. The company continued to partner with Seminole State College with its support for the college’s Educational Foundation as well as the college’s economic development activities in communities served throughout the surrounding five counties.
The company has consistently supported fund raising efforts of the college’s Foundation – providing scholarships for students, aid for faculty enrichment activities and donations for capital ventures to improve the campus. Additionally, Wrangler/Kontoor has provided special funds to support the President’s Leadership Program.
As one of the Seminole area’s largest employers at just under 300 employees strong, it provides an opportunity for employment and job advancement for both students and graduates. Director Ray McQuiston served many years as a Trustee of the SSC Educational Foundation and is currently completing a seven-year term as a Regent for the college. Under his local leadership, Wrangler/Kontoor continues as one of Seminole State College’s strongest allies and partners.
“We are so honored to have our partnership with Kontoor Brands/Wrangler recognized through this awards program. Our students and our campus have benefited greatly by the support we have received from this company,” SSC President Lana Reynolds said.
For more information about the OSRHE business partnership award, visit okhighered.org/econ-dev/partner-excellence.shtml.