The State Board of Higher Education's decision on Friday to allow OSU-Cascades to offer lower division classes was one of the last hurdles to making it a four-year university. But what happens now for OSU and what does it mean for COCC?
Before the board's endorsement, OSU-Cascades officials said they weren't able to firmly plan for the future.
Now, the university has a lot of planning to do for more faculty, more students and more facilities.
And officials tell me they can't wait to get started.
"I think the important thing is it moves us forward and helps us remove some of the uncertainty," COCC President Jim Middleton said Monday.
Middleton serves as a new member of the state Board of Higher Education -- and Friday's meeting happened to be his first.
Middleton was one of the 11 people who unanimously voted to endorse OSU-Cascades' four-year expansion plan.
"If not Bend, where? If not now, when?" Middleton said, quoting OSU President Ed Ray.
Middleton says the new campus will help Central Oregon meet the state's 40-40-20 goal: 40 percent of Oregonians having bachelor's degree, 40 percent having an associate's degree and 20 percent having a high school diploma by 2025.
OSU-Cascades Vice President Becky Johnson says it was amazing to see the board's support.
"This is really exciting," Johnson said. "We can start moving at a much faster pace, planning for the facilities planning for the new programs, new majors, hiring new faculty."
The university has been ready, but prior approval stalled all that planning.
"You don't want to spend a lot of time and resources planning for something that you might not be able to do," Johnson said.
OSU-Cascades is hoping to acquire about 90,000 square feet of space, somewhere near the new graduate and research center off Colorado Avenue in Bend.
"Within walking distances of our new building," Johnson said. "We are just going to look at all the real estate options and proceed from there."
That also means OSU-Cascades will move off the COCC campus on College Way.
Middleton says having a university is a balance, if not an overall gain for the college.
"It further strengthens the appropriateness of coming and starting at COCC and being able to integrate with the university system," Middleton said.
"We have different missions that are complimentary," he added. "All the great things there are about COCC remain, and I think this will strengthen our partnership with the university,"
While there's still some uncertainty on elements such as where the campus will be and the buildings the university will we be able to acquire, officials consider them relatively minor hurdles.
"Those are problems that are a lot better to have than sitting around waiting for approval from someone else," Johnson said.
Applications for fall term have increased for OSU-Cascades, something Johnson attributes to the talk of a four-year university.
Johnson says the university is going to grow fast as soon as they get established.
The first freshman class is scheduled to begin in 2015.