Fortune 500 Company Gives Oral Roberts University $500,500 for Shark Tank Program

The College of Business program at Oral Roberts University received a half-million dollar grant toward building a technology boardroom to be called the “Shark Tank,” which is on track to rival the business pressure cooker of ABC’s TV show having the same name.

ONEOK, a Tulsa-based energy company on the Fortune 500 list, granted ORU’s business program approximately $260,000 this summer and will be giving a total of $500,500 for the construction of the ONEOK Technology Boardroom and support for the Shark Tank over the next four years.

The technology boardroom will be a high-tech, executive-style boardroom that will serve as a teaching lab for the College of Business and house the Shark Tank program. The program is an established year-long course published in the university’s catalog as “Senior Paper,” school officials said.

The Shark Tank program gives students the opportunity to pitch business and project ideas to investors at the start of their senior paper 9-month class. If the student convinces investors, who are chosen from the business community, that their project is worthy of support, seed money is given to the student to launch his idea.

Dr. Steve Greene, who is the Dean of the ORU College of Business and professor of the Shark Tank program, said the class is “somewhat modeled” after ABC’s show, which features celebrity business owners grilling prospective entrepreneurs.

“Every graduating class goes through this program,” Greene told The Christian Post. “We give them very real world experience. We give them an idea on what they are about to face. We throw them to the sharks.”

Greene said the Donald Trump-like boardroom will have a tech wall with multiple screens where students will be able to talk live to business people from around the world.

“One of my missions is to launch 1,000 business across the world,” he said. “We really believe that our impact is multi-national.”

John W. Gibson, who is ONEOK chairman, president and chief executive officer, said in a statement that supporting ORU is important in order to attract and retain the talent needed for success now and in the future.

"We are proud to support the ORU College of Business Shark Tank program, a unique hands-on learning experience that allows students to apply what they have learned in the classroom to a real-world business plan," Gibson said.

About one third of all ORU students attend College of Business classes to either major or minor in the category, according to school officials. The recent graduating class ranked in the 95th percentile on the National Field Test, which determines whether students completing their undergraduate business program have retained the required study material.

Greene said that although he has never lossed enthusiasm for teaching his business students, he was reinvigorated by the grant news.

“I’m here to help students and to see a local partner, a really good solid business, a Fortune 500 company give back to students … all I can respond with is humility and with a sincere re-dedication to make sure my students get everything they possibly can out of this experience,” Greene said. “At the same time, it is a great challenge to produce, to get my students to a level where Fortune 500 companies are going to want my students.”

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