State approves expanded OSU campus in Bend

State approves expanded OSU campus in Bend
Oregon State University's Cascades campus in Bend, Ore.

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Oregon Board of Higher Education on Friday approved a proposal from Oregon State University to make its Bend campus a four-year university.

The OSU-Cascades campus currently doesn't offer freshman and sophomore classes. Most graduates from the campus attend nearby Central Oregon Community College for their first two years of college.

Friday's decision by the Board of Higher Education means Oregon State could begin offering traditional four-year degrees at its Bend campus as early as the fall of 2015.

The university estimates the Bend campus could have as many as 5,000 students by 2025.

University leaders say the campus expansion is critical to achieving the state's higher education goals and reviving the central Oregon economy.

It’s unknown how much the expanded campus will cost. Oregon State President Ed Ray recently told the Business Journal that university officials are “keeping an open mind” about whether to keep existing administrative and classroom space or to build an entirely new campus.

Rebecca Johnson, who runs the existing Cascades campus, said she envisions an urban campus that allows students to have easy access to downtown Bend attractions.

Ray is committed to working closely with the business community to offer the degrees that are most important to central Oregon, such as energy engineering, tourism and hospitality, and computer science.

The Portland Business Journal is a KATU.com news partner