CareerTech Director announces retirement

Phil Berkenbile, state director, Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education, today announced he will retire in 2013. The official date will be determined by the state board depending on the hiring of a new state director.

Berkenbile has been in his current position since January 2004. He began his career in Oklahoma as an agricultural education instructor for Morrison Public Schools and later became the superintendent of schools in Morrison. He has served in various positions at ODCTE, including agricultural education northwest district supervisor and curriculum specialist, agricultural education assistant state supervisor, associate state director for education services and chief of staff.  

He serves on several boards and task forces, including chairman of the Governor’s Taskforce on Healthcare, and past chairman of the Oklahoma Education Technology Trust Foundation. He received his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in agricultural education from Oklahoma State University, and in 2006, he received the OSU Graduate of Distinction Award in Agricultural Education.

He has held several national positions including president of the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium.  Berkenbile assumed this role at a pivotal time as national and state leaders in education, including those at NASDCTEc, implemented a range of strategies to prepare students to compete in the global economy.

Berkenbile recently received the prestigious 2012 VIP Award from the Oklahoma FFA Association and the 2010 VIP Citation from the National FFA Organization. The VIP Citation is one of the most prestigious awards a person may receive for supporting FFA and its programs.

During his tenure at the agency as state director, Berkenbile has seen sweeping changes in education and the economic climate.

"Our mission at CareerTech is to prepare Oklahomans to succeed in the workplace, in education and in life," said Berkenbile. "We are working with young people who are digital natives and adults who need to transition into new career fields. This has occurred at a time when several Oklahoma industries are demanding a highly skilled workforce."

Several major initiatives have been implemented during his term as state director. The system embraced the National Career Clusters initiative to help students create a strong pathway to careers. The system also created several Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics academies, including those for Pre-Engineering and Biomedical as well as offerings in biotechnology. Online opportunities for students and staff also have grown, resulting in a more efficient and technologically advanced system.  

With a reduction in the state budgets during the past few years, Berkenbile also has been instrumental in reorganization of staff responsibilities and reductions in agency expenditures.

The first year Berkenbile took over as state director, total enrollments for the system reached more than 500,000. In FY11 total enrollments were 503,780 with nearly half of all Oklahoma high school students, or 80,575 students, enrolled in CareerTech courses in 398 comprehensive school districts. The technology center system includes 29 districts with 57 campuses, and Skills Centers have continued to serve approximately 1,100 offenders each year.

"The impact of CareerTech to our state’s economic prosperity is tremendous," said Berkenbile. "A study by Oklahoma State University’s Center for Economic Research in 2008 revealed that those who completed full-time programs at technology centers add $2.4 billion to the state’s economy. And that is a small percentage of our students. I know of countless individuals and companies that owe success to CareerTech. For that, I am most honored to have served in this great system."

For more information on Berkenbile or the CareerTech System, please visit